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Abdullah Abdullah endorses intra-Afghan dialogue negotiating team

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(Last Updated On: March 31, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah endorsed Tuesday the delegation for intra-Afghan peace dialogue announced by President Ashraf Ghani aimed to negotiate with the Taliban representatives, noting that the team represents the country’s national interests.

He added in the statement that he gave priority to the peace process, despite the unresolved political crisis following the announcement of the presidential election results.

“My commitment is not to undermine the peace process due to political issues,” Abdullah said.

Meanwhile, the European Union in a statement welcomed the consensus among the Afghan leaders over the formation of the negotiation team.

“The EU Delegation in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission based in Kabul welcomes the agreement by political leaders on an inclusive negotiation team. This constitutes an important step towards starting intra-Afghan negotiations and solving the domestic political crisis. We offer our full support to the newly established team. We encourage all political leaders to promote the effective participation of women, youth and victims,” said in an EU statement.

The EU also called on the Taliban to show a genuine commitment to peace negotiations and to reduce violence and engage in meaningful discussions on a ceasefire, as per the Doha Agreement.

“This is the time to show a sincere constructive spirit; Peace is about compromises. Now that there is progress on the issue of prisoners and the negotiation team has been chosen consensually, there are no more reasons to postpone the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement noted.

“The Taliban should respect and work constructively with the team put in place in Kabul as the Government should work with the team of the Taliban despite its lack of inclusivity,” the EU emphasized.

The Afghan government announced a 21-member team led by the former intelligence chief Mohammed Masoum Stanekzai to sit in a direct talk with the Taliban.

The Intra-Afghan dialogue was scheduled to start on 10th March; however, it was postponed due to disputes over the prisoner releases.

The Taliban have demanded the release of 5,000 of its prisoners, but the Afghan government said the prisoners would be released only if the militants were guaranteed that they would not return to the battlefields.

The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, however, said that a 3-member team of the group had arrived Kabul to verify their prisoners and pursue the release process.

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Locusts attack along India-Pakistan border threatening food security

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

There has been an increased risk along both sides of the India-Pakistan border, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Friday.

FAO, in its Friday release, warned, “Despite control operations, recent heavy rains have created ideal conditions for the pest’s reproduction in several countries. Young juveniles will become voracious adults in June just as farmers begin to harvest, compounding an already bleak food security situation.”

Reports indicate that India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in the south and southwest Asia already threatened by the COVID19 pandemic.

According to Indian news outlets, swarms of desert locusts swept Jaipur on Monday as the insect onslaught spread wider to parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh; while Gujarat and Punjab have warned their farmers of locust attacks.

This is the second round of locust attack in India, the first one having occurred during December-February.

Locust attacks in 12 countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and ten nations in Africa, have damaged crops over millions of hectares.

The World Bank has set up a $500 million program to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat the impact of locusts.

It is noteworthy that the Locusts can destroy standing crops and devastate livelihoods of people – The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering 1 square kilometer can contain up to 80 million locusts.

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COVID19 updates Afghanistan; cases rise to 11,173

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

With 591 new registries in the last 24 hours, the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases rose to 11,173 – Kabul ranks first on the table, with 390 new cases.

The Ministry of Public Health confirmed 591 new cases of the Coronavirus in the past 24 hours, including 390 reported from Kabul, and the rest are designated as follows:

“Herat 62, Balkh 36, Badghis 21, Nangarhar 18, Kunar 14, Takhar 14, Jawzjan 11, Wardak 7, Paktia 5, Baghlan 5, Khost 3, Panjshir 2, Ghor 2, and Bamyan reported one new case.”

It is worth mentioning that authorities have tightened the movement restrictions on Eid days in Kabul city to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

On the other hand, although religious scholars emphasize to impose restrictions, they call on the police to be soft with the sick and others in serious need.

The Ministry of Public Health has reported a lack of capacity in the Afghan-Japan Communicable Disease Hospital amid the rapid increase in the number of infections.

It, therefore, has announced that three more hospitals will be made designated to the Coronavirus patients in Kabul.

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Australian researchers record world’s fastest internet speed

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

Researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities have recorded the world’s fastest internet speed from a single optical chip of 44.2 Terabits per second, Monash University reports.

A research paper published on Nature Communications’ journal, indicates that a team of researchers from Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities has successfully has tested and recorded Australia’s fastest internet data speed.

According to the research, this data speed is capable of downloading 1000 high definition movies in a second.

The researchers used a new device that replaces 80 lasers with one single piece of equipment known as a micro-comb, which is smaller and lighter than existing telecommunications hardware.

“These findings have the potential to not only fast-track the next 25 years of Australia’s telecommunications capacity but also the possibility for this home-grown technology to be rolled out across the world,” the paper writes.

According to the findings, this technology has the capacity to support the high-speed internet connections of 1.8 million households in Melbourne, Australia, at the same time, and billions across the world during peak periods.

It is the first time any micro-comb has been used in a field trial and possesses the highest amount of data produced from a single optical chip.

Dr. Bill Corcoran, one of the researchers, says, “We’re currently getting a sneak-peak of how the infrastructure for the internet will hold up in two to three years’ time, due to the unprecedented number of people using the internet for remote work, socializing and streaming. It’s really showing us that we need to be able to scale the capacity of our internet connections.”

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