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Delays continue to hamper the start of intra-Afghan negotiations 



(Last Updated On: September 7, 2020)

After more than a month of speculation around the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, talks have still not started as delays continue to dominate the process. 

For months the Afghan nation has waited for negotiations to get underway but these were initially delayed by challenges around the prisoner release process. 

Last week President Ashraf Ghani released the final batch of ‘hardcore’ Taliban prisoners, except for six, raising hopes that talks would start immediately. 

On Saturday, a Taliban delegation that had been in Pakistan for talks returned to Doha and later that day announced the names of their negotiating team members. 

This led to further speculation that talks could start Monday – especially as the United States’ chief peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also reportedly arrived in Doha over the weekend. 

But anticipated talks did not start on Monday as hoped for and the Kabul team has not yet left   Afghanistan.

 One senior government official told Reuters on Monday that the negotiating team may fly on Tuesday.

According to him, the cause of the delay was partly due to the Taliban and officials in Doha sorting out final logistical questions over the opening ceremony, including who should be given time to speak and how flags should be arranged.

These matters carry symbolic weight for the two sides, each of whom has questioned each other’s legitimacy to present themselves as governing powers, Reuters reported.

Another issue hampering the start to talks was that plans to move the six prisoners to Qatar have yet to be finalized. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that there were no “major issues” causing the delay, adding that they were waiting for the six prisoners to be released, but technical teams from both sides were working on the issue, Reuters reported. 

On Monday afternoon, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said government was ready to start talks. 

In a post on Twitter, he said: “The Afghan government delegation is ready for peace talks and the technical problems in front of these talks in Qatar have been resolved.” 

Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, meanwhile held a number of high-profile meetings with stakeholders on the issue of peace on Monday. 

During the course of the day, he met with UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons to discuss the upcoming talks as well as the Charge d’affaires for the EU in Afghanistan Arnout Pauwels. 

In another meeting, Monday Abdullah discussed peace efforts with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) envoy Huseyin Avni Botsali. 

But despite all the discussions around peace talks – no firm date has yet been given as to when talks would start.


Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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Pakistan seal semi-final T20 World Cup spot after beating Namibia 



(Last Updated On: November 2, 2021)

Pakistan defeated Namibia by 45 runs on Tuesday night in Abu Dhabi to become the first side to qualify for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2021.

Chasing a formidable target of 190, Namibia gave a good account of their ability and promise and eventually finished with 144-5 as Pakistan collected the two points they needed to go through to the next round.

Pakistan’s total is the second-highest in this tournament, behind Afghanistan’s 190-4 against Scotland in Sharjah.

Afghanistan’s next T20 World Cup match is on Wednesday against India.


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US administers over 420 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines



(Last Updated On: October 31, 2021)

The United States has administered 420,657,683 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 518,701,225 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The agency said 221,221,467 people had received at least one dose, while 192,244,927 people were fully vaccinated as of 6am on Saturday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, Reuters reported.

About 17.7 million people have received a booster dose of either Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

On November 8, the United States is lifting the extraordinary travel restrictions that have barred most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. 

It is also imposing new rules requiring nearly all foreign adult air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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