President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Pakistani army chief of staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa held talks on key bilateral issues. President Ghani hailed the visit by the Pakistani officials as an important step considering the current situation and opportunity available for cooperation. The statement further added that the two sides discussed various issues, specifically regional security, bilateral relations, peace and stability, fight against terror, trade and transit relations, and mid-term and long-term bilateral relations. They also reaffirmed the support of Islamabad for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. President Ghani said peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be better for the two countries and for the region, emphasizing that only through peace and stability the poverty could be eradicated from the two countries.
China is set to play a bigger role in United Nations peacekeeping missions while also providing its military with real-life training opportunities after completing the registration of 8,000 troops last week, analysts said. China’s defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday, as required, the standby peacekeeping force would “conduct task-specific and adaptive training in accordance with the UN training standards”. China’s President Xi Jinping promised to make 8,000 troops available to the UN in 2015, at which time he also offered to help train 2,000 peacekeepers from other countries, provide 100 million dollar in military aid to the African Union, and deploy more engineering, transport and medical personnel. The increased numbers of military troops is indicative of Beijing’s desire to play a bigger role in global policing. Miwa Hirono, a professor of Chinese international relations at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, said the composition of the new peacekeeping force represented a “comprehensive contribution that reflects the current challenges peacekeepers have”. “Maintaining peace and security in conflict areas has become a really important challenge for China, because it has a lot of assets and people in those places”, Hirono said. The government has frequently cited the peacekeeping force as an example of how “China is bearing the international responsibilities of a great power”.
Hamas has agreed on an exchange of prisoners with Israel, a deal suggested by Egypt two weeks ago. However, the Israeli government has reportedly rejected the prisoner swap. Israeli media quoted an Israeli source describing Senwar’s announcement as “a manoeuvre”.The agreement between Hamas and Egypt over the deal reached Israel through an Israeli official who is charged of negotiations, Ma’an added. Senwar did not reveal the details of the deal, but according to reports by Palestinian newspaper Al-Istiqlal and Israeli newspapers Haaretz and The Times of Israel, it would mean that Israel release 39 bodies of Palestinians who were killed in 2014, including 19 Hamas members, and in return Hamas would give information on the missing Israeli soldiers that the group allegedly holds. The second phase of the deal would be the release of 58 Palestinians who were rearrested in 2014 after they were released in 2011 in a prisoner swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a group that is known in the Arabic media as “the Shalit captives”. The third and last phase would be the start of negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a further prisone swap, with Egyptian mediation.