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Facebook labels state-controlled media outlets

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Facebook – a social media giant – said Thursday that it would start labeling state-controlled media outlets on Facebook.

Facebook would reportedly add labels to the Facebook pages of Russia Today, Russia’s Sputnik, China’s Xinhua News, Iran’s Press TV, and the People’s Daily, among others, saying that these were state-controlled outlets.

The Company said in a statement, “We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.”

The giant tech company would also block state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the US this summer ahead of the US presidential election in November without setting an exact date.

“State-controlled media outlets rarely advertise in the US. Nevertheless, later this summer we will begin blocking ads from these outlets in the US out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate ahead of the November 2020 election in the US,” Facebook said.

Other outlets that are run independently, would not be included in the labeling, Facebook said.

It comes as the company has recently faced a backlash from its employees for not adding warning labels to comments from the U.S. president linked to the ongoing violence across the country.

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Afghanistan to host regional meeting on the peace process

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(Last Updated On: July 5, 2020)

Afghanistan will host a summit on Monday which will be attended by regional countries to discuss the Afghan peace process. 

Representatives from 19 countries, the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and neighboring countries are expected to attend the meeting.

The meeting will be held on Monday at the Presidential Palace via a video conference.

Reduction in violence, the start of inter-Afghan talks, the exchange of prisoners, and the establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire are points of the meeting’s agenda, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said.

“The countries of the region and Afghanistan’s strategic partners will join the regional summit which will be held as a video conference on Monday,” MFA spokesman Gran Hiwad said.

Monday’s meeting will bring together a number of countries that have conflicting interests in Afghanistan. They will be brought together to reach a consensus on peace talks, the government said. However, the government has repeatedly stated that there is a consensus on the peace process in the region.

“The Afghan government has always said that we have a regional consensus. In tomorrow’s meeting with twenty countries, they will once again emphasize the regional understanding of Afghanistan’s peace and security,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan.

The regional meeting, hosted by Kabul, will begin with a speech by the President, and at the end, 19 countries and the United Nations will announce a joint declaration on peace in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Kabul will host a trilateral meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China on peace talks. But holding the meeting out of sight of India beyond New Delhi’s regional opposition to Islamabad and Beijing is seen as detrimental to the peace process.

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Afghanistan, India sign MoUs for development of educational infrastructure

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(Last Updated On: July 5, 2020)

Memorandum of Understandings for the construction of five educational infrastructures was signed between Afghanistan and India on Sunday.

According to the agreement, three schools and two universities will be built in Nuristan, Farah, Badakhshan, and Kapisa with the cost of $ 2.6 million. 

The MoUs were signed by Economy Minister Mustafa Mastoor, Higher Education Minister Abdul Tawab Balakarzai, Deputy Education Minister Abdul Subhan Raouf, and Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar on Sunday.

The agreement envisages the construction of two schools in Badakhshan province and one school in Nuristan province for the Ministry of Education, and the construction of a road at Kapisa Medical University and the renovation of an educational building in Farah.

 “The construction cost of these schools is $ 900,000, which is in Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces,” said Abdul Subhan Rauf, deputy director of administration and finance at the Afghan Ministry of Education.

“These projects should be implemented by the Ministry of Economy as soon as possible,” said Abdul Tawab Balakarzai, Acting Minister of Higher Education.

India’s ambassador to Afghanistan says that the launch of the projects will help increase the capacity of students in Afghanistan adding that apart from physical projects in Afghanistan, India has worked in building capacity of youth in Afghanistan as well.

Since 2005, India has implemented 400 developmental projects in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, which promises to help Afghanistan in the long run in various areas.

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Complete release of Afghan forces prisoners essential: Presidential Palace

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(Last Updated On: July 5, 2020)

The Afghan government says that it is committed to an early start to intra-Afghan talks, amid to put an end to the conflicts and bring peace and stability in Afghanistan

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Presidential Palace, however, noted that a full release of Afghan forces prisoners by the Taliban remains as the most important principle of the prisoner swap process for the government.

The government said that hundreds of remaining Taliban prisoners would be released after the Taliban releases all security and defense forces that are under their captivity and reduced violence so that the inter-Afghan talks shall be started.

“The Doha agreement had problems from the beginning,” said Gol Ahmad Nourzad, a member of the House of Representatives.

But the main dispute is over the release of about 100 dangerous Taliban prisoners accused of being involved in deadly attacks by the government. But a spokesman for the Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar to Ariana News accused the government of filing cases and putting obstacles to the release of their prisoners.

“The Afghan government needs to know that the United States has agreed with the Taliban that their prisoners will be released. I don’t know why the government is insisting,” said Ishaq Gilani, a political analyst.

For days, the Taliban and government technical committees have been working to release the prisoners.

About 4,000 Taliban prisoners have been released so far, according to Afghan government statistics. On the other hand, the Taliban have said they have released more than 700 government-affiliated prisoners.

“If the prisoners are released, the time for talks will be set soon,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Intra-Afghan talks are expected to take place in Doha this month. But before that, 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 government prisoners must be released by both sides.

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