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

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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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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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