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Afghan peace talks should continue unless Taliban pull out: Abdullah

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2021)

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah said on Friday that long-stalled talks on a political settlement to decades of strife should not be abandoned despite surging Taliban attacks unless the insurgents themselves pull out.

“I think we shouldn’t shut the door unless it’s completely shut by the Taliban,” Abdullah told Reuters in an interview. 

“We can’t say no to talks despite a lack of progress or in spite of what’s happening on the ground.”

Abdullah spoke after he and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House for talks on U.S. military and civilian aid, and issues stemming from the departure of the last U.S. troops nearly 20 years after the U.S.-led invasion.

The former political rivals’ two-day visit, which included meetings with lawmakers from both parties and the Pentagon leadership, came at a time of surging violence across Afghanistan as government forces struggle to beat back Taliban advances.

Biden told Ghani and Abdullah that “Afghans are going to have to decide their future” and the “senseless violence has to stop.”

The fighting, however, has raised grave doubts about long-stalled U.S.-backed peace negotiations between the insurgents and a delegation that includes government officials that began in Doha under the Trump administration in 2020, Reuters reported.

Abdullah said there was “perhaps more optimism” about a peace deal when the negotiations began because, “the Taliban said things to different interlocutors that created optimism.”

Still, Abdullah said, the talks should not be abandoned.

“Eventually, the last man killed will not be a solution,” he said. “There has to be a peaceful settlement.”

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Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash 

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2022)

Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday. 

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3. 

The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered. 

Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram. 

Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded. 

 

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Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights

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(Last Updated On: July 29, 2022)

Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.

According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.

IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.

Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.

Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.

According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.

Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.

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China adds science lab to its orbiting space station

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2022)

China added a laboratory to its permanent space station Monday as it moves toward completing the structure in coming months.

The Wentian lab module was launched from the Wenchang space base on the tropical island province of Hainan on Sunday with a large crowd of amateur photographers and space enthusiasts watching, AP reported.

After 13 hours of flight, it successfully docked with the Tiangong station’s main Tianhe living module early Monday according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The Wentian is designed for science and biology experiments, and 23-ton lab module is heavier than any other single-module spacecraft currently in space, according to the state-owned Global Times.

It will be followed by a second lab module, the Mengtian, due to be launched in October.

Three astronauts are currently living in the core module on a six-month mission and oversaw the Wentian’s arrival.

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