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Abdullah urges talks team members to continue their efforts for peace

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(Last Updated On: January 28, 2021)

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah said in a series of tweets Thursday that he had a virtual video meeting with the Republic’s talks team and listened to their report back on progress and challenges.

Abdullah said he “instructed them to continue their efforts for peace.”

“I reiterated the Republic’s commitment for peace, and finding a political settlement for the current crisis.

“I also instructed the team to focus on ceasefire, reduction of violence, and an end to the targeted killings as the priorities of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” he said.

Around the same time as Abdullah issued his tweets, the Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem also issued a series of tweets and said a delegation from the group, led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

He said the special representative of the Russian President, Zamir Kabulov, and other officials met with Stanikzai.

According to him, topics concerning the full implementation of the Doha agreement were discussed during the meeting.

However, members of the Republic’s peace negotiating team said on Wednesday the Taliban is not ready for a ceasefire and every time the topic turns to their request for an Islamic Emirate, the group’s members walk away from the negotiating table.

The Republic’s talks team members also said the Taliban team has not been interested in discussing the agenda for the last ten days.

“Whenever there is a discussion about the issues they raise, they shrug their shoulders and they have repeatedly run away from the negotiating table,” said Farooq Majrooh, a member of the Afghan Republic’s team.

“They want to be superior, to use war and terror as a means, and to have the upper hand in this matter,” said Habiba Surabi, another member of the negotiating team.

The Taliban have in the past stated they will only discuss a ceasefire once a ruling system for Afghanistan has been determined.

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Magnitude 5.6 quake hits western Afghanistan, killing more than 20

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An earthquake rocked western Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 20 people and destroying hundreds of homes, local authorities said.

The 5.6 magnitude tremor shook the western province of Badghis, bordering Turkmenistan, in the afternoon, reducing brick homes to rubble, according to photos shared by local authorities, Reuters reported.

“Unfortunately, our initial reports show that 26 people, including five women and four children, have been killed and four others injured,” said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the director of Information and Culture of the Badghis provincial administration.

“The Mujahideen have reached to some of the affected areas, but Badghis is a mountainous province, the number of casualties might go up,” he added, referring to Taliban fighters, and adding that heavy rain was also lashing the area.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, head of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs, confirmed the death toll and said more than 700 houses had been damaged, Reuters reported.

Sanullah Sabit, the head of the nursing unit at the main hospital in Badghis’ capital said they had received five patients injured in the quake, mostly with broken bones and fractures.

The quake was at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

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Pakistan fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan: officials

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

Military officials in the eastern zone told Ariana News on Monday that clashes broke out between Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Pakistani forces on Sunday night in the Sarkano district of Kunar province, close to the Durand Line.

Officials said that Pakistani forces fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan, but that no casualties were reported.

Hamdullah Hamdard, the spokesman for the 1st Border Battalion of the Eastern Zone, said that IEA forces also fired several rockets back at Pakistani forces.

“Clashes erupted between Taliban (IEA) and Pakistani forces in Sarkano district of Kunar province. The clashes continued until 9:00 pm. The cause of the clashes was because of the attack by Pakistani forces. In response, Taliban (IEA) forces also fired rockets towards them, and maybe they suffered casualties. Our forces and people did not suffer casualties,” added Hamdard.

IEA officials said recently they are establishing 32 new check posts along the Durand Line to counter Pakistani attacks.

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China’s birthrate falls to lowest level in 61 years

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, barely outnumbering deaths in 2021 despite major government efforts to increase population growth and stave off a demographic crisis.

Across China, 10.62 million babies were born in 2021, a rate of 7.52 per thousand people, the national bureau of statistics said on Monday.

In the same period 10.14 million deaths were recorded, a mortality rate of 7.18 per thousand, producing a population growth rate of just 0.34 per thousand head of population, the Guardian reported.

The rate of growth is the lowest since 1960, and adds to the findings of last May’s once-a-decade census, which found an average annual rise of 0.53%, down from 0.57% reported from 2000 to 2010.

China, like much of east Asia, is in the grip of a population crisis, with lowering birthrates, and predictions of imminent negative population growth and an ageing population. Monday’s figures showed the proportion of over-60s in China rose from 18.7% in 2020 to 18.9%.

Beijing has announced major reforms to address the decline, including raising the retirement age. A three-child policy has replaced the two-child policy that was introduced in 2016 and had sparked a slight increase in births before falling again.

The high cost of living, delayed marriages and lack of social mobility are frequently cited as contributing factors to young Chinese people’s reluctance to have children.

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