Displaying items by tag: peace talks
Efforts to restart peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist New People’s Army have faltered as clashes continue. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr surprised many when he initiated talks, facilitated by the Norwegian government, with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the rebels’ political front. These resulted in an agreement in which both parties acknowledged the underlying grievances at the heart of the conflict and agreed to seek reforms. However, military operations persist, including airstrikes in December in Mindanao which killed nine alleged rebels. The conflict, spanning more than fifty years, has claimed more than 40,000 lives, peaking during the martial law era of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. Peace talks have repeatedly collapsed over the years.
An agreement to restore relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran has opened the possibility of peace talks between Riyadh, which backs Yemen’s official rulers, and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. Saudi and Houthi representatives met with Omani mediators in Yemen last week to negotiate a permanent ceasefire. Pray for further progress. The UN estimates that 4.5 million Yemenis are displaced and two-thirds of the population are in dire need of humanitarian aid. In eight years Yemen has endured terrible suffering from bombs and mines causing needless deaths. The war is fuelled by Saudi Arabia, Britain, America and the United Arab Emirates - and also Iran, which has supplied funds and weapons to Houthi rebels. There are miles of negotiations and diplomatic manoeuvrings to go, but to reach this point is a tremendous tonic for Yemenis who have seen war plunge their beautiful and naturally resource-rich country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Days after the UN called for a halt to fighting in Yemen amid the coronavirus pandemic, a two-week ceasefire was declared by the Saudi-UAE coalition. But the Houthis said they would keep fighting unless a years-long siege on the impoverished nation is lifted. The conflict has killed over 100,000 people and pushed millions to the verge of famine. The vulnerable impoverished people now have their first coronavirus case, and the country is now bracing itself for the pandemic. Continue to pray for a de-escalation in the fighting, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and for the Houthis to join the UN-sponsored talks for a settlement to the five-year conflict. Pray particularly for God to soften the heart of Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, the Houthi spokesman.
Afghanistan has begun its first face-to-face talks with the Taliban on exchanging thousands of prisoners.
Details of the initial meeting in Kabul emerged on Wednesday 1 April, ahead of a planned second day of talks, as Afghans observed tight restrictions on movement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under a US-Taliban deal, the government will free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the militants will release 1,000.
The talks took place against a backdrop of continuing violence in the country. Authorities blamed the Taliban for an explosion in the southern province of Helmand on Wednesday that killed eight civilians, including several children.
How much progress has been made in talks?
The prisoner swap had been due to take place in early March, as part of a US-Taliban deal signed on 29 February, but there have been a series of setbacks. Until Wednesday, the two sides had only met by video conference.
With talks due to resume for a second day on Wednesday, Afghanistan's Office of the National Security Council said that progress had only been made so far "on technical matters". The talks were overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the focus was on the release of security force and national defence captives as well as Taliban prisoners, the ICRC said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the meetings did not amount to negotiations, telling AFP: "There will be no political talks there". The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo called the beginning of the talks "good news".
The Taliban had been due to send a large team to the Kabul talks, but in the end sent a three-man delegation because of the covid-19 virus outbreak. A spokesman for the militant group said the trio would monitor the prisoner release process and take the necessary technical measures.
Though US troops began withdrawing last month under the terms of the deal with the Taliban, movement on the prisoner swap has been slow because of disagreements between President Ashraf Ghani and his main political rival Abdullah Abdullah.
Pray that these breakthrough talks will lead to a successful exchange of prisoners and that the face to face talks between the government will continue.
Pray for an end to the ongoing violence that is devastating the lives of many Afghans.
Pray that the coronavirus will be arrested in its tracks and that it will not spread.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced a $1bn cut in American aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince President Ghani and his political foe, Abdullah, to end a feud that has jeopardised a US-led peace effort. He said that the US is also prepared to cut another $1bn worth of assistance in 2021, and is conducting ‘a review of all of our programmes and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan’. The harshly-worded announcement underscored how badly the US-led effort to end decades of strife in Afghanistan has stalled. En route back to Washington, Pompeo stopped at Qatar to meet Taliban officials, including their top negotiator. Pompeo indicated that the aid cut could be cancelled if everyone came to an agreement.
The Berlin conference on Libya, attended by rival leaders in the civil war and many international leaders including Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan, concluded on 19 January. It set forth mechanisms for the establishment of a cease-fire committee which will meet regularly. However, few expect short-term changes on the ground in Libya, as a sustainable resolution remains elusive. In the days following the summit, observers said that Turkey’s increased involvement in the conflict has expanded its diplomatic clout in the nine-year conflict; it has positioned itself as a key broker in developments moving forward. Boris Johnson said that the aim of the conference was to ‘stop jockeying for position. The people of Libya have suffered enough. It is time for the country to move forward.’
13,000 people have died since fighting began between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian soldiers in 2014. On 10 December 2019 Russia and Ukraine made progress towards restoring peace in eastern Ukraine, at a Paris summit mediated by Germany and France. A joint communique stated, ‘The sides commit to a full and comprehensive implementation of a cease-fire, strengthened by the implementation of all necessary support measures, before the end of the year 2019’. A prisoner exchange was also agreed. Angela Merkel said the meeting gave renewed momentum to reviving a 2015 Minsk peace agreement that had stalled. Please pray that nothing will prevent the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the restoration of Kyiv's control over its borders, and wider autonomy plus local elections for the separatist regions. The last time the four national leaders gathered in this format was in 2016.
From an organization working inside the country:
"We need your Prayers urgently for the upcoming presidential elections on 28th September. A complex attack on vice presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh on Sunday, July 28 with at least 30 people dead and was carried out by the Taliban marked to beginning of the presidential election campaign. Saleh is running as vice president with president Ashraf Ghani in the elections and stands for a moderate, anti-Taliban regime. The Taliban and their allies had announced as in previous elections, that they would do all they can to stop or at least seriously disrupt the elections. If God does not intervene it will definitely be again a very violent and deadly election campaign.
Please pray for the right person to be elected. Even the former Taliban support and “butcher of Kabul”, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, launched his election and pledged that religious scholars will be hired in high-level national decision-making levels with his new government.
While the preparations for the next elections are under way, peace negotiations are going on between the US government and leaders of the Taliban. The Trump administration has so far undertaken eight rounds of negotiations with the Taliban. The US president seems to be very eager to get his troops out of Afghanistan and news just came out that the US government is preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan as part of a proposed peace deal with the Taliban. Pray especially for President Trump and his advisors for discernment and for a firm standing in support of the present and new government in Afghanistan.
We and also many local people we spoke to, are disturbed by so called peace negotiations and are concerned and afraid that the US army will abandon Afghanistan and it would fall back again into the hands of the Taliban. It causes a lot of insecurity and uncertainty with the people. Please pray that no dangerous compromises be made and that the foreign armed forces will support the Afghan Army as long as they are need.
Pray also for the teams. Many Team Members have taken a break or are on furlough. Pray for those who bear the extra load and will stay strong and healthy in the heat.
Please pray for continued strengthening and protection of our local brothers and sisters who have remained in the country and that they would be a strong witness to the many desperate people in Afghanistan
Thank you for interceding with us on these key issues.
..Commits To NATO Membership
Ukraine's president said he is ready to negotiate with Russia to end the war in eastern Ukraine, but he also reaffirmed his country’s course toward NATO membership -- a move strongly opposed by Moscow.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy made the comments on June 4 during a visit to Brussels, where he met withtop European Union and NATO officials as part of his first foreign trip as president.
Fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has killed some 13,000 people since April 2014, shortly after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords in September 2014 and February 2015 have contributed to a decrease in fighting in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk but have failed to hold.
"We are ready to hold negotiations with Russia [and] to implement the Minsk agreements. But first we must be capable to protect ourselves and get stronger economically, politically, and militarily," Zelenskiy said at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters.
Zelenskiy also said that Ukraine's "strategic course to achieve full-fledged membership in the EU and NATO" remained unchanged.
Moscow has made explicit its opposition to NATO’s further expansion, especially as regards to Ukraine and Georgia. Tbilisi is also seeking to become a member of the Western military alliance.
Calling Ukraine a "highly valued partner," Stoltenberg expressed NATO's support for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, saying: "Allies do not, and will not, recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea."
The NATO chief also called on Ukraine to implement reforms on fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.
"These reforms are essential to ensure security and prosperity for all Ukrainians and to bring Ukraine closer to NATO," he said.
Zelenskiy is scheduled to attend a session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission later in the day. The commission is the key format for cooperation between Kyiv and NATO.
A comedian-actor with no political experience, Zelenskiy was inaugurated on May 20 after defeating incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a large margin.
In addition to the conflict in the east and Russia's occupation of Crimea, Ukraine faces entrenched corruption and major economic hurdles.
With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Interfax, and Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
Pray: For peace and stability to be restored in this region.
Pray: For wisdom, strength and statesmanship for President Zelenskiy despite his lack of experience.
Pray: For an end to the aggression and threats being made directly and indirectly by Russia.
Pray: That efforts to tackle corruption in the Ukraine will succeed.
Senior Afghan politicians and the Taliban said they made progress during peace talks in Russia, although they did not make any significant breakthrough.
The May 28-30 talks in Moscow came amid international efforts to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.
In a May 30 joint statement, the sides said they held "productive and constructive" talks focusing on a possible cease-fire, the "strengthening of the Islamic system," and "women's rights."
"Both sides have had tremendous progress, but some issues require further discussions," the statement read.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's negotiating team, said that "spectacular progress" was made on issues including the withdrawal of international forces and a future political settlement.
However, Ata Mohammad Noor, a powerful regional leader, expressed some disappointment.
"Our expectations were higher," Noor said. "Our main message was on the cease-fire; a cease-fire could be the beginning of peace."
The sides met in Moscow on May 28 for a ceremony during which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
The three-day meeting was the second hosted by Russia in recent months.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy seeking a peace deal with the Taliban, has held several rounds of talks with the militants in Qatar.
The sides have made progress, but the Taliban has so far rejected direct negotiations with Kabul.
Khalilzad has welcomed Russia’s peace efforts, although some U.S. officials have said Moscow was promoting itself as a power broker to challenge the U.S.-backed peace process with the Taliban.
The Taliban, which continues to stage daily attacks across Afghanistan, now effectively controls or influences about half of the country.
Pray: that all sides will be able to sit around a negotiating table.
Pray: for an end to the daily attacks by the Taliban.
Pray: for all those who are working towards brokering lasting peace in the country.
Pray: for a peace deal to be agreed and for lasting stability and prosperity to return to Afghanistan.