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Afghan-Iranian officials move to strengthen relations and tighten border controls

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: June 23, 2020)

Afghanistan’s acting minister of foreign affairs Mohammed Haneef Atmar, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif have agreed to take all necessary measures to prevent illegal border crossings and human trafficking by stepping up controls over the shared boundary.

This decision was announced late Monday night in a joint statement issued by the two officials as Atmar wrapped up a two-day official visit to Afghanistan’s neighboring country.

According to the statement, the security-frontier committee and the committee on the legalization of residence of nationals of the two countries on each other’s soil were assigned to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the security of the common border in order to prevent illegal travel, human trafficking, and smuggling.

“In this regard, the two sides highlighted the need for the Afghan security forces to be present in the border outposts emptied in Afghanistan, and for the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate issuing visas,” read the statement.

Both sides also stressed the “need for the border guards of the two countries to monitor and control the common borders strictly and effectively, and undertook to prevent illegal border-crossing, human trafficking, and smuggling of drugs and any other items into the territory of each other.”

An agreement was also reached regarding mutual cooperation in observing international health regulations at the border crossings.

Numerous meetings were held during the two-day visit where a wide range of issues was discussed, including the expansion of relations between the two countries in various fields within the framework of eight working committees.

This includes committees on comprehensive documentation, legalization of residence of nationals, border cooperation, labor, water, cultural cooperation, energy, and health issues.

The two sides stated that in order to institutionalize and organize sound bilateral relations, Afghanistan and Iran would proceed with negotiations to finalize a comprehensive document on strategic cooperation and have this document finalized and ready to be signed within three months.

Iran also stated that it welcomed the peace process efforts and expressed readiness to help facilitate intra-Afghan negotiations. They also stated they would be willing to host such negotiations.

Both sides emphasized the need to reduce violence in Afghanistan “with the purpose of building trust and creating a positive atmosphere in order to launch the intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible, achieve a lasting ceasefire, and establish sustainable peace.”

“Considering the significance of regional and international consensus on the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan, the two sides stressed the need to strengthen the regional and international cooperation and consultations and activate the capacities available in the region with the purpose of facilitating the negotiations and supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s establishment,” read the statement.

Both countries agreed that there was also a need to carry out joint programs in promoting common areas including that of the heritage of language, religion, and culture, as well as educational cooperation.

Detailed discussions were also held on recent incidents that resulted in human fatalities.

This comes after tension heightened early last month after reports emerged that Iranian border guards had allegedly beaten and thrown about 50 Afghan migrants into the Harirud river.

Iran has refuted these claims and said the incident, which resulted in the death of some migrants, happened on the Afghanistan side of the river.

The statement, however, indicated that Iran had informed the Afghan side of progress around ongoing investigations, and both sides agreed to adopt measures to prevent any recurrence of such an incident.

Discussions on boosting economic ties were also held and the two sides agreed on a number of cooperation initiatives in the transport and transportation sectors. Chabahar Port was highlighted as being the “driving engine of trade-transit cooperation in the region.”

Both sides agreed there was a need to provide welfare facilities at border crossings and that joint action was needed as a matter of urgency to “repair the infrastructure and the asphalt road for motor vehicles at the Dogharoun border crossing.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director-General for West-Asia Seyed Rasoul Mousavi hailed Atmar’s visit.

“As an expert, I would like to say the visit of FM Atmar to Tehran was a very important and comprehensive one,” Mousavi Tweeted on Tuesday.

“Negotiations & agreements were reached in all areas. The joint statement of the visit is cold water on the fire of the ill-wishers of Iran & Afghanistan relations,” he added.

Iran has over the past 40 years hosted millions of Afghan refugees. According to Iran, it currently hosts about 1.5 million Afghan refugees who are living in the country illegally, in addition to about 800,000 documented

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Hundreds of prisoners rounded up as Jalalabad prison attack continues

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(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

Almost eighteen hours into the Jalalabad prison attack, Afghan security forces are still trying to bring the situation under control and round up escaped prisoners. 

Officials have said that hundreds of prisoners who escaped during the attack have since been caught. 

Some prisoners who have been arrested told Ariana News that six attackers entered the prison and ordered them to leave. The prisoners were told that if they did not leave they would be killed by the assailants. 

A security source said that the prisoners who escaped include Taliban members, Daesh militants, and criminals.

The attack started just after 6.30 pm on Sunday night and has continued through the night and Monday morning. 

Daesh, which claimed responsibility, detonated a car bomb outside the prison on Sunday evening, blowing the gate open. Militants then stormed the facility.

In the ensuing gun battle, hundreds of prisoners escaped. 

It is believed, however, that Daesh militants took control of two prison towers earlier and that some prisoners have taken up arms and are fighting alongside the attackers. However, there has been no official confirmation of these reports. 

Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, meanwhile said the death toll has risen to 21 and 43 wounded. 

He said the victims include prisoners, security forces, and civilians. 

Zahir Adil, a spokesman for the provincial health directorate, told Ariana News that 13 of those wounded are in a critical condition. 

This attack started just a day after Afghanistan’s intelligence services announced the Afghan special forces had killed a high-ranking Daesh member in an operation in eastern Afghanistan.

A statement late Saturday by the National Directorate of Security said the slain militant was Assadullah Orakzai, an intelligence leader for the IS affiliate (Daesh) in Afghanistan. The statement said he was killed near Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province. IS has its headquarters in the province.

Orakzai was suspected of being involved in several deadly attacks against both military and civilian targets in Afghanistan.

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Iran arrests pro-Taliban Afghans who waved group’s flag in park

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(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

Iranian authorities have arrested a group of Afghans who waved a flag in celebration of Eid al-Adha in a park in Tehran.

MENAFM reported that Iranian intelligence and police officials confirmed to local media outlets that the security forces arrested the group during an operation.

The officials also said that the individuals were arrested in connection with the publication of the pictures of the Taliban flag which they had taken in Mellat Park in Tehran.

The suspects are in police custody and an investigation is underway, officials told MENAFM.

The Iranian authorities reportedly acted to detain the Taliban supporters after the images shocked Iranians on social media.

This move comes after comments were made recently by some of Afghanistan’s Western allies that Iran was not doing enough to support the peace process.

However, Iran has been quick to reject these claims. 

On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani described peace in Afghanistan as peace and stability for the entire region.

He told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a telephone conversation that Iran had always stood by the people and government of Afghanistan with regards to peace and stability. 

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to always deepen relations with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan based on historical and cultural common grounds and strengthening these relations by taking advantage of economic, trade and transit capacity between the two countries,” he said.

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UAE to host IPL 2020 as tournament gets provisional green light

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(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

Cricket fans around the world will be glad to hear that the ever-popular IPL tournament is back on track for this year after having been suspended in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) met via video-conference on Sunday to discuss the issue and decided to go ahead with the tournament, starting in September. 

However, matches will not be held in India this year and will instead be played in the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. 

According to the IPL GC, they still need final clearance from the Indian government for the tournament to take place. 

VIVO IPL 2020 will be played from September 19 and the final will be played on  November 10. 

The 53-day tournament will witness afternoon and evening matches.

The Governing Council also discussed the comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which will be finalised and published in due course, including the agencies to execute and deliver a bio-secure environment for safe and successful Sponsors and all the Stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in close partnership with all of its stakeholders and will continue to take guidance from the Government of India, State Governments and other State Regulatory bodies.

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