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Afghan peace negotiator says they hope to finalize agenda soon

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2020)

Afghan Peace Negotiator, Mawlawi Attaullah Lodin said Sunday that the Afghan team and the Taliban peace talks team have not yet reached a consensus on the agenda and framework for negotiations going forward. 

Lodin, whose video message was posted to the official Afghan negotiating team’s Twitter page said the team is fully aware of Afghanistan’s calls for an immediate ceasefire but that the talks are complicated and will need time for agreements to be reached. 

He said: “We hope to finalize the agenda and that both sides agree to it. Thereafter a ceasefire should be called.”

Lodin also raised the issue of the US-Doha agreement signed in February, which has become a point of contention between the two teams. 

The agreement led to the Afghan negotiating team meeting the Taliban team around the talks tables, which started two weeks ago. 

However, the Afghan government was not a party to the deal between the US and the Taliban, which does not recognize the Afghan government as legitimate. 

“We were not present in the deal, we have not signed the deal,” said Lodin. 

This comes after a member of the Taliban’s negotiating team, Khairullah Khairkhwa, said on Saturday that the main point of contention in the ongoing intra-Afghan talks in Doha was that the Afghanistan Republic was refusing to deal with the current talks within the framework of the US-Taliban agreement.

He also stated that the second point of contention is that Shiite members say that decisions should not be based solely on Hanafi jurisprudence. The Afghan negotiating team want Hanafi, Shiite and human rights included.

Lodin said, however, that according to the Afghan constitution, the Shiites Jaʿfari jurisprudence, or Ja’fari Fiqh, can not be ignored. 

“We don’t want to experience what is going on in Yemen and Syria as there is conflict between majorities and minorities in those countries,” he said. 

Another Afghan talks team member Nader Nadery meanwhile said late Sunday night that the two teams had met earlier and discussions had lasted several hours. The discussions focused on the contentious issues and would continue, he said. 

COVID-19

China dismisses complaints over quarantining US diplomats

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2022)

China on Friday dismissed complaints from two U.S. congressmembers over the quarantining of American diplomats and their family members under the country’s strict COVID-19 regulations.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said China “adopts a science-based and effective epidemic prevention protocol for both Chinese and foreigners coming to China without discrimination.”

The policy, Mao said, is “open and transparent.” Regardless of their status, all U.S. visitors accepted China’s epidemic policies, including post-entry medical observation and health monitoring, Mao told reporters at a daily briefing, AP reported.

“Such statements by individual U.S. lawmakers are really absurd and completely groundless,” Mao said, adding that the congressmen appeared to be showing signs of “China phobia.”

Republicans James Comer of Kentucky and Michael T. McCaul of Texas wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday asking for clarification on the quarantining of U.S. diplomats and family members by the People’s Republic of China.

“U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing recently confirmed that 16 U.S. diplomats and their family members — throughout the pandemic — have been involuntarily held in quarantine camps and subjected to strict confinement measures with no definitive release date,” their letter stated.

“Committee Republicans are concerned that U.S diplomats could be or have been pressured to surrender intelligence while detained in PRC quarantine camps,” it said. “The PRC poses a geopolitical threat to the United States and should not be coercing U.S. diplomats into and surveilling them under draconian quarantine policies.”

The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment on the letter on Friday.

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UN Security Council condemns Friday’s suicide bombing in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2022)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemned Friday’s deadly attack at the “Kaj” educational center in west of Kabul, which left scores dead and injured and said that the perpetrators, organizers, financial providers and sponsors of such terrorist acts must be brought to justice.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice,” said UNSC in a statement.

“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”

The security council members have also urged the world, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in this regard.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also strongly condemned the attack and said: “Education is a fundamental right and an essential driver for sustainable peace and development.”

The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians, and has called on the IEA to protect the rights of all Afghans – regardless of ethnicity or gender so that they may have access to education safely and securely.

In the meantime, IEA’s Second Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi assures that the forces of the Islamic Emirate will arrest and hold accountable the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, especially yesterday’s attack.

In another statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned suicide bombing attack on the Kaj educational center in Kabul and asked the Islamic Emirate to take more measures to fight against terrorists.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for this deadly attack but previously such attacks were claimed by ISKP (Daesh).

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Virus kills 100,000 cattle in India, threatens livelihoods

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2022)

A viral disease has killed nearly 100,000 cows and buffaloes in India and sickened over 2 million more, AP reported.

The outbreak has triggered devastating income losses for cattle farmers since the disease not only results in deaths but can also lead to decreased milk production, emaciated animals, and birth issues.

The disease, called lumpy skin disease, is spread by insects that drink blood like mosquitoes and ticks. Infected cows and buffaloes get fevers and develop lumps on their skin.

Farmers have experienced severe losses from extreme weather events over the past year: a record-shattering heat wave in India reduced wheat yields in April, insufficient rainfall in eastern states like Jharkhand state shriveled parched winter crops such as pulses, and an unusually intense September rainfall has damaged rice in the north.

And now, the virus has spread to at least 15 states with the number of cow and buffalo deaths nearly doubling in three weeks, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The contagion spreading among cattle is having a disproportionate impact on small farmers, many of whom have insulated themselves from the shocks of climate change by rearing cattle for milk, said Devinder Sharma, an agriculture policy expert in northern Chandigarh city.

The first cases in South Asia were detected in 2019, and it has since spread to India, China, and Nepal. It was first recorded in Zambia in 1929 and has extended through Africa and more recently to parts of Europe.

Dairy is among the largest agricultural commodities in India, employing 80 million people and contributing to 5% of its economy, per federal data. It’s the world’s largest milk producer, making up more than a fifth of global production — but exports are only a fraction of this.

To try and protect the industry, authorities are vaccinating healthy cows using a shot designed for a similar disease while efforts are underway to develop a more effective vaccine.

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