Abbas, Putin discuss developments in Palestinian cause

Untold India December 31, 2021

RAMALLAH, Palestine: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the latest developments in the Palestinian cause, according to Palestine’s state news agency WAFA on Thursday. WAFA reported that the phone conversation between the two leaders focused on “the latest developments in the Palestinian cause as well as ways of strengthening the distinguished bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and peoples.” Abbas reiterated the need for a political path to resolve the Palestinian issue “based on international legitimacy resolutions and the necessity of holding a meeting of the International Quartet Committee at the ministerial level.” The International Quartet Committee on the Middle East Peace Process was formed in 2002 and includes Russia, the US, EU, and UN. Abbas also stressed “the importance of stopping the unilateral Israeli practices of settlement (expansion), confiscation of lands, demolishing homes, deporting Palestinians from Jerusalem, abusing prisoners, detaining the bodies of martyrs, and stopping the terrorism of (Israeli) settlers.” “The continuation of these Israeli measures will cause the situation to explode,” he warned. Abbas said the absence of a political path to the Palestinian cause and Israel’s rejection of the two-state solution alongside its “choking of the Palestinian economy” will not go unaddressed. He vowed to take “decisive” decisions on the aforementioned Israeli measures “especially as we are on the verge of holding an important meeting of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” Abbas and Putin agreed on the continuation of contacts between the two sides “on all issues of common interest,” WAFA added. Peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel have stalled since April 2014, due to Tel Aviv’s refusal to stop settlement building, release Palestinian detainees, and evading a two-state solution.-AA

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Ex-Afghanistan president defends decision to flee after Taliban takeover

Untold India December 31, 2021

LONDON: Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, on Thursday defended his decision to flee the country as the Taliban took over the capital Kabul in mid-August. In an interview with BBC News, Ashraf Ghani said he did not intend to leave Afghanistan, but reiterated that his sudden departure saved Kabul from death and destruction. “Two different factions of the Taliban were closing in from two different directions,” Ghani said, describing the moment he was informed of the Taliban’s advance on the capital. “And the possibility of a massive conflict between them that would destroy the city of 5 million and bring havoc to the people was enormous.” Ghani explained that he initially planned to leave Kabul for another city, but upon hearing news of the fall of other cities, decided that the only viable option was to exit Afghanistan. He was also advised by his security chief that a stand in Kabul would mean certain death for Ghani, his close advisers and millions of residents of the capital. “He did not give me more than two minutes. My instructions had been to prepare for departure for Khost. He told me that Khost had fallen and so had Jalalabad,” Ghani said. “I did not know where we will go. Only when we took off, it became clear that we were leaving (Afghanistan). So this really was sudden.” The former president has been heavily criticized for fleeing and abandoning Afghanistan, with former Vice President Amrullah Saleh calling his departure “disgraceful.” Accusations of embezzlement have also been levelled against Ghani. He previously rebuffed what he said were “baseless allegations” that he escaped from Kabul “with millions of dollars belonging to the Afghan people.” “I want to categorically state, I did not take any money out of the country. My style of life is known to everyone. What would I do with money?” the former president said. Ghani accepted that mistakes were made during his administration, but put most of the blame on the international community including the US, whom he accused of sidelining his government during talks with the Taliban. A peace process initiated by former US President Donald Trump allowed for the US to withdraw from Afghanistan and paved the way for a transition of power in Afghanistan. The US exit, however, was accelerated by the Biden administration this year, giving the Taliban a chance to sweep through the country in a matter of weeks after a two-decade insurgency against international forces led by Washington.-AA

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