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Atmar, Qureshi discuss further steps in peace, bilateral ties

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2020)

Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Minister of Foreign Affairs met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Niger on Friday and discussed further steps in the Afghan peace process and strengthening bilateral relations.

The meeting was held in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on the sidelines of the 47th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Minister’s summit.

Hanif Atmar stated in a tweet that the meeting was focused on “the next steps in peace, security, refugee return, regional connectivity, and economic cooperation.”

In the meeting, Qureshi stressed the importance of reduction in the violence leading to a ceasefire to save lives and advance peace efforts.

He stated that Pakistan will continue to facilitate the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

Noting the recent progress in Intra-Afghan talks, Qureshi emphasized the need to remain vigilant about the role of ‘spoilers’ who did not wish to see the return of peace in the region.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Qureshi also “stressed that peace negotiations represented a historic opportunity, which must be seized by the Afghan leadership to establish enduring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.”

According to the statement, Pakistani FM pointed out that the Afghan peace process offered the opportunity for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor.

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SpaceX delays launch of 143 satellites due to bad weather

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(Last Updated On: January 24, 2021)

SpaceX is expected to launch 143 satellites into space on a single Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday after having to postpone its launch day of Saturday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida due to bad weather.

The decision to postpone came just six minutes before blast off, Space.com reported.

“Weather is looking a little dicey for our current liftoff time,” SpaceX production supervisor Andy Tran said about seven minutes before the rocket was scheduled to blast off, citing electrical fields.

Space.com reported that less than a minute later, the SpaceX team made the call to postpone the launch attempt entirely, not waiting for the clock to run out.

Electrical fields are a risk to rocket launches because they can prompt lightning formation during liftoff.

The Transporter-1 launch will be SpaceX’s first dedicated rideshare mission, carrying 133 assorted small satellites and 10 of the company’s Starlink internet satellites. When it launches, the mission will hold the record for most satellites deployed from a single rocket, Tran said.

The launch will be the fifth flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster. Its previous flights, all in 2020, include the company’s first-ever crewed launch, called Demo-2, in May 2020, which sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station for a two-month stay.

The booster also launched a military communications satellite for South Korea, a Cargo Dragon resupply ship to the station for NASA and a separate Starlink mission.

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Atmar urges Taliban to fulfill its commitments, agree to ceasefire

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(Last Updated On: January 24, 2021)

Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Haneef Atmar said the Taliban has to agree to a ceasefire if the group wants to exonerate itself of being responsible for the high levels of violence across Afghanistan.

In an interview with the Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic international newspaper, Atmar called on the Taliban to comply with its obligations and fulfill the commitments it made at the time of signing the US-Taliban deal in Doha last year.

Atmar stated that the Afghan government has met its obligations and has “released over 6,000 detainees and met all the demands made by the Taliban.”

He said that now the Taliban has to prove its “good intentions” in bringing peace to the country.

“Now the Taliban must prove to the Afghan people and the international community that they are fulfilling the promises and obligations they signed,” Atmar told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The Afghan government sees that a ceasefire agreement would serve as the best evidence of the Taliban not seeking violence and that they are not responsible for the current level of violence in the country,” Atmar stated.

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Govt to purchase local products in move to boost domestic market

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

The Afghan National Procurement Authority (NPA) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Saturday, that will compel government entities to purchase only domestic products where possible.

According to the MoU, which was signed between Ilham Omar Hotak, NPA Chief, and Shirbaz Kaminzada, Chief of the ACCI, all government departments will have to use domestic products from next year (1400 Solar Calendar).

Hotak said at the event that government will in the future have to purchase domestically produced or manufactured products, despite the estimated 25 percent price difference.

Hotak urged the ACCI to guarantee the quality of products, stating “all industrialists should standardize their products.”

“We want to use all alternatives to promote our domestic products in the year 1400 and all government bodies will be bound to use domestic products.”

The ACCI officials, meanwhile, stated they would invest more in the country if the government promised to support local products.

ACCI Chief, Shirbaz Kaminzada stated: “If domestic products are included in government deals we are ready to invest in other sectors as well.”

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