Kabul to seek support for Afghan-led peace plan in Geneva talks

A two-day international conference in the Swiss city comes at a time when US is seeking a peace deal with the Taliban.

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    Geneva, Switzerland - Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani is heading to Switzerland to hold high-level talks with international diplomats during a key summit focused on the development and the economy of a country wracked by years of war that have claimed thousands of lives.

    Starting on Tuesday, the two-day summit in Geneva is billed as a platform for the Afghan government to renew its commitment to reform and discuss aid contributions in its bid to achieve stability and security.

    The United Nations, which is co-hosting the summit at the city's Palais des Nations with the Afghan government, says the conference "will also be crucial in measuring results against the $15.2 billion committed by the international community for Afghanistan in 2016".

    The Afghan delegation is expected to present its growth strategy, ranging from maintaining security and building infrastructure to fighting corruption and female empowerment.

    They also plan to emphasise the continued need for constructive contribution from the international community.

    "We have had at least 60 percent progress - we still have two more years for the completion - in mutually agreed upon indicators, which include expanding the private sector, increasing exports, reforming the security sector and making the Afghan government more gender inclusive," Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesperson to the president of Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera.

    "For example, for the first time in our history, we have a female judge nominated for Supreme Court. We have female representation in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) as well. There are at least 30 women in leadership positions in the Ministry of Interior."

    The Afghan Ministry of Finance said in a statement that "foreign ministers from 62 nations and delegations of 35 assisting organisations would take part in the conference".

    It also said that the summit will give a chance to the Afghan government to call on the international community to "support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process".

    The conference comes at a time when the US administration is holding direct talks with the Taliban, Afghanistan's largest armed group which was toppled following a US-led invasion in 2001.

    The Taliban wants to drive international forces out of the country and establish a legal system based on a strict interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence.

    This month, Taliban officials have held three days of talks with Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington's special representative for Afghanistan in Qatar,  aimed at renewing the peace process.

    The Afghan government has not been involved in these talks.

    [Al Jazeera] 

    Last week, a five-member Taliban delegation headed to the Russian capital, Moscow, to attend for the first time an international conference to discuss the Afghan peace efforts.

    "A second phase (of discussions) should be held among Afghans (themselves) on how to bring about peace and form a government in Afghanistan," Sohail Shaheen, a Qatar-based spokesperson for the Taliban, told reporters in Moscow last week.

    Last year, US President Donald Trump increased the number of US forces in the country as part of a new strategy against the Taliban. There are now about 14,000 US soldiers in the country. The Taliban has previously said the presence of foreign troops was the biggest obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.

    According to the latest figures released in July by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 1,692 civilians were killed during the first six months of 2018 - the most recorded in the period over the last decade since the agency began documentation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News