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China’s Foreign Minister calls for regional unity to stamp out terrorism

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(Last Updated On: March 30, 2021)

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called on all parties attending the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Tajikistan to join forces and increase the fight against “terrorist organizations like Al-Qaida, ISIS and the ETIM until they are completely eliminated”.

He also stated that “foreign troops should withdraw from Afghanistan in a responsible and orderly way, so as to prevent the various terrorist forces from ramping up and creating trouble”.

He noted that he believes all parties attending share a strong desire and firm resolve to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Wang said with the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan standing at a crucial juncture, there is a rare, historic opportunity for a political settlement of the Afghan issue.

“In this sense, the theme of this Conference, ‘Strengthening Consensus for Peace and Development’, is most fitting and meaningful. Peace is an urgent priority and a prerequisite for development; development is a perpetual pursuit and a guarantee for peace.”

He said the Istanbul Process involves all of Afghanistan’s neighbors and major countries in the region, as well as many international players supportive of the Process an in line with this “China expects all parties to deepen cooperation in the following three areas:

“First, sustaining the momentum of peace talks and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan issue can only be resolved by political means, and the future of Afghanistan should be kept in the hands of the Afghan people.”

Wang said the Afghan people must stay confident and patient, and strive for broad-based, inclusive and durable peace through sincere dialogue and negotiations.

International supporting parties should abide by the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle, put aside self-interests, uphold fairness and justice, and contribute more positive energy to the peace and reconciliation process, he said.

Second, he said while Afghanistan has made big strides in economic and social development in recent years, “it lacks internal drivers of growth”.

“Currently, the implementation of the China-Afghanistan MOU on Belt and Road cooperation is well underway, and China has provided several billion yuan in grant to Afghanistan.”

He also noted that China had helped during the COVID-19 pandemic,and that it will soon provide free vaccines to Afghanistan.

His third point was on terrorism which he said was a serious challenge for countries in the region and a common enemy of humanity.

“It will be ill-advised to follow double standards in counter-terrorism, as they will backfire at the end of the day. All parties need to join forces and double down on fighting terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the ETIM until they are completely eliminated.

“Foreign troops should withdraw from Afghanistan in a responsible and orderly way, so as to prevent the various terrorist forces from ramping up and creating trouble. In this context, China will continue to strengthen coordination and deepen cooperation with all other parties concerned,” he said.

In conclusion he noted that China will continue to do its best to support, mediate and facilitate Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process.

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Pakistan’s customs agent says exports to Afghanistan dwindle

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Hundreds of trucks lined the winding, mountainous road leading to Torkhum, the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing on Thursday.

Pakistani officials say that is because exports to Afghanistan have dwindled in the days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) take over.

But some truck drivers were upbeat because they said the vegetable and fruit season in Afghanistan had helped increase exports of these items from the war-ravaged country.

Another Pakistani official at another Pakistan-Afghan border Chaman said trade had picked up because the IEA government had reduced taxes, and also put an end to bribes that traders and truck drivers had to pay to cross the border.

Afghan new government bolstered its economic team last week, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new government, prices for staples like flour, fuel, and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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IEA’s defence minister orders crackdown on abuses

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting new defence minister has issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters following the IEA’s victory over the Western-backed government in Afghanistan last month, saying abuses would not be tolerated, Reuters reported.

According to the report Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said in an audio message that some “miscreants and notorious former soldiers” had been allowed to join Taliban units where they had committed a range of sometimes violent abuses.

“We direct you keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you,” he stated. “We don’t want such people in our ranks.”

The message from one of the IEA’s most senior ministers underlines the problems Afghanistan’s new rulers have sometimes had in controlling fighting forces as they transition from an insurgency to a peacetime administration, the report said.

Some Kabul residents have complained of abusive treatment at the hands of IEA forces who have appeared on the streets of the capital, often from other regions and unused to big cities.

There have also been reports of reprisals against members of the former government and military or civil society activists, despite promises of an amnesty by the IEA.

Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorized executions, and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

“As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone,” he said.

Reuters said that it was not clear precisely which incidents he was referring to, nor what prompted the message, which was published on IEA Twitter accounts and widely shared on social media.

There have been reports of tensions within the IEA between hardline battlefield commanders and political leaders more willing to seek compromise with governments outside Afghanistan, report said

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