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Conference on Afghanistan in Jeddah

Tuesday 10 July 2018

JEDDAH (Arab News) — A two-day conference of religious scholars to discuss measures for restoration of peace in Afghanistan begins today in Jeddah. The conference, hosted by Saudi Arabia, will conclude in the holy city of Mecca.

The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has organized the event titled International Ulema Conference on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan. Its declared objective is to help bring peace and stability in a country that has long been a victim of extremism.

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh and religious scholars from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Egypt and other Muslim countries will attend the conference.

However, a Taliban statement issued just hours before the meeting has warned participants against declaring its insurgency anything but a jihad (“holy war”) against “American invaders” of the country. The insurgent group asserted the ongoing conflict is not an “inter-afghan battle or battle among Muslims”, blaming the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan for starting it.

The Islamist insurgents have dismissed Tuesday’s Saudi propositions and decrees issued in previous such gatherings of Muslim scholars, including one in Indonesia, as “a U.S. ploy to justify its ‘military occupation” of the country and seek legitimacy for the “stooge” Kabul regime.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered unconditional peace talks to the Taliban and declared a unilateral temporary ceasefire against the insurgents last month during the Eid festivities to encourage a negotiated end to the war.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit. The July 9 visit is Pompeo’s first since becoming the top U.S. diplomat.

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