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China seizes US consulate in Chengdu, China 

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2020)

China took over the premises of the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday, after ordering the facility to be vacated in retaliation for China’s ouster last week from its consulate in Houston, Texas, Reuters reported.

The seizure capped a dramatic escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies that began when employees at China’s Houston consulate were seen burning documents in a courtyard last Tuesday, hours before Beijing announced that it had been ordered to leave the facility.

The US consulate in Chengdu, in Sichuan province, was closed as of 10 am on Monday, and Chinese authorities had entered the building from the front door, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

On Friday, Beijing announced that it had asked the United States to close its Chengdu post, and gave the Americans 72 hours to vacate, the same amount of time China was given to leave its Houston mission, which was shut on Friday.

“We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision and will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China,” a US State Department spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

At midday on Monday, police removed a roadblock that had restricted access to the Chengdu facility, and dozens of passersby stopped to take photos and videos.

One man stood across the street and played the Chinese national anthem from his phone.

Grey sheet-like material was placed over the spot near the entrance where a plaque had been affixed, and over the place where there was large lettering saying “US Consulate General”.

According to Reuters, the US embassy issued a video in Chinese on its Twitter feed: “The US consulate in Chengdu has been proudly promoting the mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan and Tibet since 1985. We will forever miss you,” it said.

The American flag was no longer flying at the consulate having been lowered at 6:18 am on Monday, according to video shot by a journalist and shared by state broadcaster CCTV on its Twitter-like Weibo account.

The eagle on top of the flagpole remained.

On Sunday night, a crane was seen entering the consulate compound and hoisting at least one container onto a large truck.

The Chengdu consulate opened in 1985 and had almost 200 employees, including about 150 locally hired staff, according to its website. It was not immediately clear how many had been working there at the time of its closure after US diplomats were evacuated from China because of the coronavirus pandemic.

US-China relations have plunged to their worst in decades over a range of disputes, from trade and technology to the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and its clampdown on Hong Kong.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech calling a more assertive approach to China the “mission of our time”.

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Imran Khan says peace in Afghanistan would boost regional trade

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan says that peace and stability in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region as it would enhance economic opportunities.

In a meeting with Nisar Ahmed Faizi Ghoryani, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce, on Thursday Khan stated: “Peace in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region by enhancing regional connectivity and providing new opportunities for economic cooperation.”

The Pakistani prime minister noted that Pakistan and Afghanistan have untapped economic synergy and opportunities, which he said could only be realized through cooperation in the economic and trade sphere.

Khan also reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support to peace and stability in Afghanistan and emphasized the need for a negotiated political settlement.

Meanwhile, Ghoryani thanked Pakistan for its role in facilitating the Afghan peace process and its “desire for enhanced economic and trade ties between the two countries.”

Ghoryani, who traveled to Islamabad to attend the Pakistan-Afghanistan 2020 Trade and Investment Forum, has met with the country’s high-ranking officials and discussed transit issues and expansion of trade between the two countries this week.

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Ghani calls for talks to be based on Holy Quran and Sharia Law

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

President Ghani said Thursday that peace negotiations, currently underway in Doha, should be based on the Holy Quran and Islamic law (Islamic Sharia).

Addressing a ceremony at the Ministry of Defense, on the occasion of the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, celebrated by Muslims across the world, Ghani slammed the Taliban stating that the group has fought for 40 years in the name of religion, but now, instead of the rules of Islamic law, the Taliban insist on the US-Taliban deal as the foundation of the talks.

The US-Taliban deal was signed in Doha in February – an agreement that paved the way for peace talks between the Afghan government representatives and the Taliban.

Talks started on September 12 but have been mired in disputes between the two teams with the main hurdle being that of jurisprudence on which to base negotiations going forward.

Raising the issue Thursday, Ghani also stated that “Afghanistan Defense and Security Forces are guardians of the Afghanistan Constitution,” which is one of the most Islamic-centered constitution’s in the world.

“As an Islamic country, governed by an Islamic government, we are honored that the construction process of over one thousand mosques across the country is being completed,” he noted.

Ghani pointed out that what can be done through peace, cannot be done through war, calling the ongoing bloodshed in the country “illegitimate”.

He also pointed out the unity between Hanafi and Ja’fari jurisprudences in the country and said Islamic civilization was second to none, but others were plunged in darkness, underlining that there is no link between the holy religion of Islam and terrorism.

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Renegades signs Afghan teenager for Australia’s Big Bash League

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Australia’s Melbourne Renegades have signed up 15-year-old Noor Ahmad after a 12-month scouting mission and plan to unleash him on the Big Bash League later this year. 

Earlier this week Renegades confirmed Mohammad Nabi had also signed up and on Thursday, the club announced on its website, 15-year-old Noor Ahmad, from Kabul, will also join their team. 

“We’ve been tracking Noor Ahmad closely for more than a year now and although he’s in the early stages of his career, he’s an exciting prospect and he has a few tricks that’ll make life difficult for batsmen,” Renegades Coach Michael Klinger said. 

Ahmad is a left-arm wrist-spinner who has earned high praise around the globe.

Ahmad earned a contract in the Caribbean Premier League earlier this year and won a T20 trophy under Mohammad Nabi’s captaincy in 2019.

“The Renegades fans and followers of the Big Bash may not know much about Noor at this stage but I can tell you, he is a very exciting talent who I feel has a big future in the game,” Nabi said.

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