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China, Afghanistan, Pakistan seek ‘orderly’ foreign troop exit

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(Last Updated On: July 8, 2020)

Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan have called for a responsible withdrawal of US-led coalition forces from Afghanistan in order to prevent what they say is a potential “terrorist resurgence” in Afghanistan.

Following the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, Afghan, Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministry officials issued a statement and said the “three sides agreed to continue to strengthen counter-terrorism and security cooperation, combat the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and all other terrorist forces and networks posing threats to our common security.”

The third round of talks was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab, and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

Discussions not only centered on security issues but also on matters around the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the statement, the three sides agreed to further the cooperation against COVID-19, to call on the international community to jointly prevent discrimination and stigma, to support the World Health Organization’s leading role in coordinating global COVID-19 response, to promote international cooperation on joint prevention and control, and to safeguard public health security in the region and beyond.

The statement also indicated that China and Pakistan “appreciated the efforts by the Afghanistan government and relevant parties in expediting the exchange of the (Taliban) prisoners to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations and call for violence reduction and humanitarian ceasefire.

“China and Pakistan will enhance cooperation with the Afghan government in support of the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace reconciliation process, the launch of Intra-Afghan Negotiations at an early date, the preservation of the gains since 2001, and (China and Pakistan) looked forward to the early restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” read the statement.

It was also noted that China will continue to play a constructive role in improving Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.

On the issue of troop withdrawal, the three sides “urged for an orderly, responsible and condition-based withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan to avoid potential terrorist resurgence.”

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Concerns raised around peace talks after journalists have Qatar visas rejected

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

The Afghan media on Wednesday voiced concern over the upcoming intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha after Qatar visas for local journalists were not approved.

Members of the public also objected to the move saying talks should not be held behind closed doors and that the people of Afghanistan have the right to be kept up-to-date on the details of negotiations.

A group of local journalists was expected to travel with the official Afghan negotiating team to Qatar this week for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations on Sunday.

However, the government has not yet commented on the visa issue.

A member of the Access to Information Commission meanwhile said that this was a serious concern.

“The presence of journalists should be a condition for negotiations so that they bring any decisions made about the fate of the people to light,” he said.

Initially reports indicated the Afghan talks team, led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, would leave Kabul, along with the group of journalists, on Wednesday.

However, the negotiating team will now only leave Thursday.

The Afghan negotiating team met with President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday to discuss issues around the upcoming peace talks with the Taliban.

Stanekzai briefed Ghani following the Loya Jirga’s decision on Sunday in favor of releasing the final 400 Taliban prisoners – which had been a stumbling block in the way of kick-starting negotiations.

Stanekzai stated Tuesday they will sit around the negotiating table with the Taliban as a united team in favor of “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” and they will consider the interests of the people.

Meanwhile, Ghani said the Loya Jirga had drawn a peace roadmap for government, and that they are “committed to the implementation of that.”

“We are committed to peace, the goal is to end the war in a fundamental way,” Ghani added.

He said the peace talks team will negotiate a suitable and fair peace deal with the Taliban as it is in the best interests of the people.

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China’s Tencent profit beats estimates on strong games demand

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd said second-quarter net profit rose 37%, beating market estimates, on higher demand for its video games as coronavirus put a dent in other entertainment options.

Revenue from online games, which accounts for one-third of total sales, jumped 40% in the quarter, primarily driven by smartphone games including Peacekeeper Elite and Honour of Kings. That offset a continued decline in desktop games.

Social networks, fintech and business services, and social advertising revenues all grew by nearly 30%.

Media advertising revenues fell by 25% however, “as a result of weak brand advertising demand amid the challenging macro environment”, and delayed content production and releases.

The world’s largest gaming firm by revenue booked a 33.1 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) profit for the three months through June. That was ahead of an average analysts’ estimate of 27.56 billion yuan, according to data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 29% to 114.88 billion yuan, versus market expectations of 112.76 billion yuan.

The results come a few days after the United States said it would ban WeChat-related transactions in the country.

Tencent, which owns the Chinese messaging app, is under pressure to address concerns about the impact of the ban and outline its plans to mitigate any fallout.

Source: Reuters

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COVID-19: AFC 2022 World Cup qualifiers postponed to 2021

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2020)

FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Wednesday that the qualifying matches in Asia for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 have been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA and AFC in a joint statement said that the Asian qualifiers matches scheduled to take place in October and November 2020 will be rescheduled to 2021.

“In light of the current COVID-19 situation in many countries, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have jointly decided that the upcoming qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, originally scheduled to take place during the international match windows in October and November 2020, will be rescheduled to 2021,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the matches were postponed to make sure all participants are protected from contracting the Coronavirus.

“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” read the statement. 

The AFC further said that it will announce new dates for the next round of the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Asian Cup 2023 in the coming days.

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