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Afghan forces ready to defend country ‘at anytime’, says defend minister

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2016)

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Afghan national defense minister in the sixth graduation ceremony of Afghan military officers stressed on readiness of Afghan forces for defending the country at anytime.

The defense minister called on Afghan officers to make further efforts in defending the territorial integrity.

“I want all Afghan military officer to be responsible in defending the country and defending the territorial integrity should be one of their priorities,” said Abdullah Habibi, minister of defense.

Now, the United States, NATO, and the Afghan government itself are gambling that the security forces are also ready – or ready enough – to take the lead in defending the entire nation from Taliban forces and Islamist insurgents.

In the meantime, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Kabul praises the Afghan young officers’ heroism.

“We praise the courage of Afghans who become ready to experience the dangerous moments of their life in defending their country,” said Dominic Jeremy, UK ambassador to Afghanistan.

Evidence is mixed as to the readiness of Afghanistan’s Army soldiers and National Police to assume the lead in planning and fighting the war.

How ready the Afghan forces actually need to be may depend in part on reconciliation talks between the government and representatives of the Taliban; which the next round is still unclear.

On the other hand, advancing peace talks could mean more violence, at least in the short term, as fighters look to advance bargaining positions – or if some aim to derail the talks.

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Messi calls off contract renewal negotiations and is ready to leave Barca in 2021, according to report

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(Last Updated On: July 7, 2020)

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his contract with the club and is ready to leave the Catalans when his current deal expires in 2021, according to a report by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Thursday (July 2).

The report said Messi and his father Jorge had begun discussing renewing his last deal with the club, which was signed in 2017, but that he no longer wishes to stay at the Camp Nou.

The report added that Messi is angry about leaked media reports that appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club, such as the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde, and that he is frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality.

The Argentine’s representatives and Barcelona did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Messi, who turned 33 last month, scored his 700th career goal on Tuesday (June 30) against Atletico Madrid, but the milestone strike ended in disappointment as Barca drew the game 2-2 in the latest blow to their bid to retain the Spanish title.

Barca trail Real Madrid by four points in the title race with five games remaining after Real beat Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.

Previously known for his shy personality off the pitch, Messi has become more vocal in his criticism of the club in the last year.

In January he hit out at sporting director Eric Abidal, who he said had implied players had led to Valverde being sacked.

In a February interview with newspaper Mundo Deportivo, he declared the team were not good enough to win this season’s Champions League.

Then in April, he criticized the board for implying players were not willing to accept a pay-cut to help the team’s financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Reuters

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Key Taliban commanders among 16 killed in Baghlan, Badakhshan clashes

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(Last Updated On: July 7, 2020)

At least 15 Taliban insurgents were killed in clashes with the Afghan forces in Baghlan-Samangan highway, police said.

In a statement released on Tuesday, police stated that the militants attacked and blocked the highway on Monday.

According to the statement, a combination of army, National Directorate of Security (NDS), police, and the special unit of police and air forces have launched a counterattack in the area.

At least 15 militants including a group’s key command – Qari Juma Gul – were killed in the air and ground raids, the statement said.

The Afghan forces have pushed back the Taliban, the statement noted.

Meanwhile, the insurgents attacked Pahn Dara, Persian name, area in Yaftal district of Badakhshan on Monday, and faced “resistance” by the Afghan security forces, Sanaullah Rohani, the provincial police spokesman said.

Rohani said, the Taliban designated judge for Yaftal was killed and two key commanders of the group were wounded as police pushed back the attack.

No casualties inflicted on the Afghan forces, he added.

The Taliban militant group yet to comment about the incidents.

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U.S. looking at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok: Pompeo

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(Last Updated On: July 7, 2020)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late on Monday that the United States is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.

“I don’t want to get out in front of the President (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.

U.S. lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience and has emphasized its independence from China.

Pompeo’s remarks also come amid increasing U.S.-China tensions over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s actions in Hong Kong and a nearly two-year trade war.

TikTok, a short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance, was recently banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China.

Reuters reported late on Monday that TikTok would exit the Hong Kong market within days, deciding to do so after China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Source: Reuters

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