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China’s Wang says Afghans ‘can control own destiny’ post withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2021)

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week that while the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan will bring some uncertainties, the move will give the Afghan people the chance to control their own future.

Following a video dialogue on Thursday with his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts, Wang said troops withdrawal will give Afghans an opportunity “to truly control their own destiny.”

According to China’s official readout after the trio’s discussion, Wang said: “The three sides agreed to deepen the cooperation in BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), supporting the substantial expansion of it to Afghanistan, and enhance the level of interconnection between the three countries.”

The three parties also agreed to create a strong dialogue mechanism between the respective foreign ministers, with China calling to add dialogue between their envoys to discuss peace talks in Afghanistan and specific steps to be taken.

According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing fears the withdrawal will lead to a potential resurgence of terrorism in the country, which would pose security risks to its predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region bordering Afghanistan and threaten its belt and road projects in the region.

China has sought to strengthen cooperation with Central Asian states on security to manage any potential spillover of turmoil from Afghanistan. During a meeting with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan last month, Beijing said they should jointly crack down on terrorists and prevent transnational crime.

However, the post reported that Zhu Yongbiao, a professor of international relations at Lanzhou University, said the expansion of belt and road projects to Afghanistan could face multiple challenges.

“First, it will face security risks due to the instability there. Besides, investment of Chinese enterprises may also fail due to the lack of understanding of Afghan culture and society. Moreover, China will be highly likely to face international accusations such as the ‘debt trap’,” Zhu said.

“Looking from China’s recent official statement, it is likely to be more active in Afghanistan from now on than in the past, which means China’s influence in the country will be expanded.

“But it does not necessarily reduce the influence of the US, because the stance of China and the US on Afghanistan is not conflicting. Instead, they share common interests in improving the self-development capacity of Afghanistan,” he said.

COVID-19

Global COVID-19 cases surpass 226.8 mln, death toll tops 4.66 mln: WHO

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

The cumulative total of global COVID-19 cases increased to more than 226.8 million, with the death toll exceeding 4.66 million as of Friday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There had been 226,844,344 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,666,334 deaths as of Friday, the WHO’s COVID-19 dashboard revealed.

A total of 5,634,533,040 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide as of Tuesday, the WHO reported.

The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States neared 42 million as of Friday, with the death toll surpassing 672,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Specifically, the country’s case count rose to 41,942,199 on Friday, the CSSE tally showed.

The United States continues to lead the world in the numbers of both confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Another 32,651 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 7,371,301, according to official figures released on Friday.

The country also recorded another 178 coronavirus-related deaths as the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 134,983.

These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Germany’s federal disease control agency, said in its latest report released on Friday that the country registered 11,022 new infections and 20 new deaths within 24 hours.

A total of 4,125,878 COVID-19 infections have been officially registered in Germany since the outbreak of the pandemic, with the death toll climbing to 92,857 as of Friday, said the RKI.

Russia registered 19,905 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 7,234,425 infections, the official monitoring and response center said on Friday.

The nationwide death toll grew by 791 to 196,626 fatalities while the number of recoveries increased by 16,619 to 6,469,017.

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Friday that the situation with the coronavirus in the country is stable but remains tense.

India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 33,417,390 on Saturday, as 35,662 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, the federal health ministry’s latest data showed.

An additional 281 deaths were also recorded since Friday morning, taking the death toll to 444,529.

Most of the new cases and deaths were reported from the southern state of Kerala.

Currently, there are 340,639 active cases in the country with an increase of 1,583 during the period.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 23,134 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 2,347,550.

The DOH also reported 255 coronavirus-related deaths, raising the country’s death toll to 36,583.

Vietnam reported 11,521 new COVID-19 cases and 212 deaths on Friday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

The new infections brought the country’s total tally to 667,650, with 16,637 deaths, the ministry said.

Most of the community cases were detected in southern localities, including 5,972 in the epicenter Ho Chi Minh City, 4,013 in the nearby Binh Duong province and 345 in Dong Nai province.

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Two killed, 19 wounded in four explosions in Nangarhar

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

Local sources confirmed on Saturday that four back to back explosions happened in various parts of Jalalabad city.

Eye witnesses say that several people were killed and wounded in the explosions.

Sources at the Nangarhar Regional Hospital said that two dead and 19 wounded were transferred to the hospital.

The reason for the explosions is not yet clear and no one has claimed responsibility.

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Khalilzad confirms Qatar plane carrying Americans leaves Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 18, 2021)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has confirmed that another group of American citizens flew out of the country on a Qatar Airways flight on Friday.

In tweets posted on Friday night, Khalilzad said: “Grateful that more Americans were able to leave today on a Qatar Airways flight. We welcome this development.”

It is unclear how many Americans remain in Afghanistan but according to Khalilzad “as President (Joe) Biden said, there is no deadline for Americans remaining in Afghanistan. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come home.”

This was the third chartered flight bringing civilians from Afghanistan to Qatar since U.S. forces withdrew last month.

A Qatari official meanwhile told Reuters that Friday’s plane had about 170 passengers on board, including U.S. and European citizens.

Foreign nationals on board included those from Belgium, Britain, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy as well as the United States, the official said.

Qatar has emerged as a key interlocutor between the West and the Islamic Emirate.

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