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Antonio Guterres appoints Jean Arnault as private envoy to Afghanistan

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Jean Arnault. Picture: CGTN
  • Jean Arnault to work in live performance with Canada’s Deborah Lyons.
  • UN says appointment “reflects the continued commitment by the UN to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan.
  • Appointment came ahead of talks in Moscow at Russia’s invitation between Afghan government and the Taliban.

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appointed veteran French diplomat Jean Arnault as his personal envoy to Afghanistan.

Arnault will work in concert with Canada’s Deborah Lyons, who is the world body’s special envoy to the war-wracked country and the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The Frenchman, who recently worked as a special UN envoy to the Colombia peace process but who has experience in Afghanistan, has been asked to “help within the achievement of a political answer to the battle,” a UN spokesman said.

His appointment “displays the continued dedication by the United Nations to the peaceable decision of the battle in Afghanistan,” said the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

Read more: UN’s Afghanistan envoy to arrive in Doha to push Afghan peace process

The appointment came ahead of talks on Thursday in Moscow at Russia’s invitation between high-level delegations of the Afghan government and the Taliban, along with representatives from the United States, Pakistan, and China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed a wider meeting after that in Turkey, to seal a comprehensive deal that could feature a “new, inclusive authorities,” according to a letter leaked to Afghan media.

In addition, the United States has asked the United Nations to convene a meeting of foreign ministers from Afghanistan’s neighbors on ensuring future stability that would notably include Iran.

Those talks come ahead of a May 1 deadline for the United States to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan — a date set by the administration of former president Donald Trump that new President Joe Biden says will be “powerful” to meet.

Read more: UN reports surge in violence against civilians in Afghanistan after peace talks

That deadline was part of the deal made with the Taliban that saw the insurgents agree to peace talks with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but those talks, held in Qatar since September, have made little progress.

Washington wants to jumpstart the process and get the Taliban and Afghan government to agree to some form of power-sharing.

The UN spokesman said Arnault would “search to advance the nice neighborly relations” in the region “contributing to peace” in Afghanistan.

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