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Hezbollah chief Nasrallah says group could escalate its response to Israel

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2021)

The leader of Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his group had chosen to respond to Israeli airstrikes on open land, but could escalate its actions in the future.

No strikes were reported on Saturday, and no casualties have been reported thus far.

On Friday, Hezbollah fired rockets towards Israeli forces, drawing retaliatory fire from Israel into south Lebanon. Both sides targeted open land, indicating that they did not wish to escalate the salvos further.

In a speech commemorating the end of the 2006 war with Israel, Nasrallah said this week’s Israeli airstrikes were a “dangerous development” that had not been seen in the last 15 years.

He said the group wanted to show any Israeli airstrike would be responded to in “the appropriate and proportional way”.

“We chose yesterday open land in the Shebaa Farms area to send a message and to take a step, and we can later escalate by another step,” Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah said that Hezbollah’s options included a response on any open land in “northern occupied Palestine,” Galilee, or the Golan Heights.

The exchanges began on Wednesday with a rocket strike on Israel from Lebanon for which no group claimed responsibility. That attack, on which Hezbollah has not commented, drew retaliatory Israeli artillery and airstrikes.

Regional tensions are running high following an alleged Iranian attack on an Israeli-managed oil tanker in the Gulf last week in which two crew members were killed. Tehran denies involvement.

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Muttaqi says non-recognition of IEA govt is benefitting Daesh

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2021)

Turkey can play “an active role in investing, realizing some projects, renovating and restoring Afghanistan,” with the resources it possesses, according to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s new acting foreign minister.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency during his visit to the country this week, Amir Khan Muttaqi said the official recognition of his government and international aid held great importance to the recovery of the country’s economy.

While in Turkey, Muttaqi met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and discussed issues related to the official recognition of the IEA and the unfreezing by the US of Afghanistan’s assets.

Muttaqi said the freezing of reserves by the US after the IEA’s takeover, violated international law and human rights.

He stressed money blocked by the US was sent from other states for the development of Afghanistan.

“The real question is, why was this money blocked? What did the citizens of Afghanistan do?,” he asked.

“On the other hand, the US and other countries say that humanitarian aid should be given to Afghanistan and human rights should be respected. But, they leave the Afghan people with a population of about 40 million without basic necessities.”

However, he told Anadolu Agency that not recognizing the new government in Afghanistan benefits Daesh (ISIS-K) but dismissed concerns that the group was a threat to Afghanistan.

“They are carrying out attacks on mosques and streets. You will agree that it is not an easy task to ensure the safety of all mosques and streets. They do not own any place in Afghanistan,” he said adding that “the fact that the new state in Afghanistan is not officially recognized is beneficial to Daesh/ISIS.

“The countries of the world, on the one hand, say control the Afghan people so they do not emigrate. On the other hand, they do not officially recognize the government and give morale to Daesh/ISIS. This is in the interest of neither Afghanistan nor the world,” he said.

Turkey and the new administration in Afghanistan held their first high-level contact after the IEA took power on August 15.

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Merkel hopes Germany continues to work with Turkey

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2021)

In a farewell visit to Turkey, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country will continue to maintain a working relationship with Turkey, and stressed the need for continued cooperation on migration and other issues.

“The relationship between Turkey and Germany, with its positive and negative sides, will go on,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the steps of Istanbul’s Dolmabache Palace.

“Everybody knows the security and independence of both our countries depends on each other.”

“We want to prevent human trafficking. It is essential … for the EU to support Turkey in this regard,” she said.

Merkel stressed that Turkey and Germany always have common interests, and added that this would be how the next federal government will see it.

Erdogan said Turkey would “always remember the good faith and the contribution” Merkel made towards maintaining ties with Turkey.

“From prevention of irregular migration from Syria, to dispatching humanitarian aid to northern Syria, on many topics Merkel did not abstain from taking the initiative and taking responsibility,” Erdogan said.

Merkel, who led Germany for 16 years, and Erdogan, who has led Turkey for 19 years, are perhaps the most seasoned political leaders in the region. At times, Merkel has pushed for maintaining ties with Turkey despite pressure at home over contentious issues such as migration and human rights.

Merkel is preparing to leave active politics later this year, but she will remain in her post until a new coalition government is formed.

Her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) narrowly lost the general elections late last month.

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Afghan delegation returns to Kabul after successful visit to Uzbekistan

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2021)

The Afghan delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Mawlavi Abdul Hanafi wrapped up a one-day visit to Uzbekistan on Friday after discussing a number of key issues including trade relations.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that talks with Uzbek officials centered around trade expansion, transit facilitation, cooperation in the health sector, the 500 KW electricity lines between Sarkhan and Puli-Khumri, and a railway line through Kabul from Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar in Pakistan.

Mujahid said delegates discussed expanding the trade of basic essentials and fuel to Afghanistan in the coming winter.

Meanwhile the Uzbekistan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that both sides discussed border security, strengthening trade relations, cooperation in the health sector, energy, and transit.

Mujahid stated that Uzbekistan and Afghanistan also established joint working groups to discuss the related topics in-depth and to come up with a viable plan that can be presented to leaders of both countries within two weeks in order to take the projects forward.

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