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Abdullah says crisis will deepen if peace opportunity is not seized 

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Monday that the crisis in Afghanistan will only intensify if the current, historic, opportunity is not used wisely. 

Speaking at a meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi in Islamabad, Abdullah said the majority of Afghans want the ongoing war in the country to end and for there to be peace and stability. 

He told the Pakistani officials that Afghanistan today is very different to the Afghanistan of 2001 – after the ousting of the Taliban regime. 

He emphasized that government was “committed to supporting national achievements.”

Abdullah thanked Pakistan for its help to get the Taliban to sit around the negotiating tables but said the level of violence, by the Taliban, in the country was way too high. 

He also said terrorism was a mutual threat for regional countries, and that “lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan is in the interests of all regional and neighboring countries.”

Qureshi meanwhile said after the meeting that Abdullah’s visit will greatly help to strengthen relations with Afghanistan and forge a common understanding on the Afghan peace process.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s steadfast support to the peace process, Qureshi emphasized that Pakistan had always maintained there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and encouraged all parties to reach a political agreement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. 

He said it was now up to the Afghan leadership to seize this historic opportunity to bring an end to the decades-long conflict and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

He also said there was a need to guard against the detrimental role of ‘spoilers’, both within and outside Afghanistan, who do not wish to see the return of peace in the region.

“The Afghan Peace Process is of paramount importance for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and  its success ensures socio-economic prosperity for all. Abdullah’s visit further strengthens the amity and fraternity between our countries,” said Qureshi.

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Brazilian volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine trial dies 

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Brazilian health authority Anvisa confirmed a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but said the trial would continue.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial,” Reuters reported.

A source told Reuters the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis vaccination.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which confirmed the volunteer was Brazilian, said a review committee had suggested the trial continue. 

The university is helping to coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil.

 

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Saleh rejects claims of civilians killed in Takhar airstrike

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday rejected claims of civilian casualties, including children, following an airstrike in Takhar province on Wednesday night. 

In a message on Facebook, Saleh said: “The news of the killing of children in the mosque in Takhar is baseless.”

Referring to Tuesday night’s attack by the Taliban in the same province – which left more than 50 Afghan national security force members dead – Saleh said: “Those who buried our forces yesterday have been destroyed and we have undeniable proof.”

Earlier, security sources stated at least 12 people were killed and 14 wounded in the airstrike which they stated had targeted a mosque in Taloqan city.

Security sources said among the victims were children and the mosque’s imam.

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Two Romanian soldiers wounded in Kandahar IED explosion

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Two Romanian soldiers were wounded on Wednesday evening when the vehicle they were patrolling in hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar. 

In a Twitter post on Thursday, NATO’s Resolute Support mission stated: “On 21 Oct, a NATO Ground Defense Area patrol in Kandahar Province struck an IED injuring two Romanian soldiers. Coalition forces regularly conduct GDA patrols in the immediate areas surrounding bases.”

The Romanian Defense Ministry said a convoy of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles had been on patrol.

“The Romanian military was traveling with a convoy of MRAP vehicles in the Kandahar region. The explosive device went off when the last vehicle in the column passed. Sergeant Adrian Ioan Czifrak and Second Class Corporal Iosif Ioan Reman were injured as a result of the explosion,” the ministry reported.

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