UN backs Afghan peace talks in resolution, Russia votes ‘no’ – world news

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The UN General Meeting (UNGA) approved a resolution over Russian objections Thursday commending progress in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban while urging stepped-up efforts to tackle terrorist attacks by the Taliban, al-Qaida, the Islamic State extremist group and their affiliates.

The vote in the 193-member world body used to be 130 in favour, Russia against, and China, Pakistan, and Belarus abstaining. Fifty-nine countries did not vote.

The 15-page resolution titled “The Situation in Afghanistan” covers a variety of issues including peace and reconciliation, democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, counter-narcotics, social and economic development and regional cooperation.

While welcoming progress in the intra-Afghan talks, including the December 2 agreement on rules of procedure for negotiations, the resolution “condemns the high rate of continued violence.” It says this “is contributing to an unacceptable number of casualties” and calls for an instantaneous cessation of violence and strongly encourages the Afghan government and the Taliban “to pursue confidence-building measures and to minimize violence.”,

The resolution reiterates the General Meeting’s “serious concern” approximately the security situation in Afghanistan and stresses the want to continue to address the threat to the country’s stability from violence dedicated by the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, in addition to al-Qaida, Islamic State, their affiliates “and other terrorist and crook groups.”

Afghanistan’s UN ambassador, Adela Raz, expressed remorse that despite her government’s strong strengthen for the resolution it wasn’t adopted by consensus, saying the measure reflects “developments that are taking place on the ground and especially the progress in the peace process.”

Raz said the goal of the government, Afghanistan’s neighbours and the General Meeting is to incorporate the Taliban as a political party. “It is our utmost aim to see the Taliban as a constructive political party in the country, without the relationship with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, working for prosperity and peace in Afghanistan,” she said.

Noting that UN experts monitoring sanctions against the Taliban say it “maintains ties to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida,” Raz said the resolution is balanced regarding “the Taliban’s willingness to take firm steps towards peace and reconciliation” and its continuing attacks and terrorist ties.

German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, whose country led negotiations on the resolution, said that “out of all of the `special years’ for Afghanistan declared up to now two decades, 2020 used to be indeed singular.” Most important used to be the start of Afghan peace negotiations in September, he said after detailing all of the events leading to the talks, starting with the US-Taliban agreement in February.

Heusgen also pointed to pledges of more than $13 billion in foreign aid and stabilization for Afghanistan at a donors convention in Geneva just over two weeks ago as evidence that “the international community stands firmly in the back of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its ongoing quest to reach self-reliance.”

He said the resolution is “constructive and forward-looking” and the vote signals that the General Meeting “stands in the back of the Afghan people in a very difficult period of the country.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, sharply criticized Germany’s role in the negotiations, saying there used to be “blatant forget” for Moscow’s concerns. She also said it is “an attempt to conceal the true scope” of threats from the Islamic State extremist group and drug issues threatening the country’s security.

She accused Germany of having “a pre-established biased position favouring one group of states,” which she didn’t name, and said it will have to no longer facilitate negotiations on the Afghanistan resolution in the General Meeting.

Nonetheless, Evstigneeva said, “we continue to strengthen Afghanistan all through this the most important period.”

Germany’s Heusgen responded by saying Russia’s “no” vote sends the message that “Russia today let down the Afghan people.”

“All of us will have to have voted in favor and will have to have sent a strong sign to the Afghan people: In these difficult times, we stand in the back of you,” he said.

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