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Iran Anti-government protests on the Ukrainian plane downing

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(Last Updated On: January 12, 2020)

Anti-government protesters hailed to the streets of Tehran Saturday after Iran admitted that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian passenger Jet, killing all 176 people on board.

The demonstrators marched in front of Amir Kabir University and Sharif Alia University of Technology and chanted slogans against the Iranian leader and IRGC, demanding a trial for the perpetrators of the Ukrainian downed plane.

Meanwhile, US President, Donald Trump tweeted in Persian that the world should no more allow the killing of Iranian protesters.

The demonstrations took place in some other provinces of Iran as well.

The demonstrators continued to commemorate the victims by lighting candles.

Among the victims, there were 23 graduates from Iranian universities.

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Violence intensifies across the country, despite peace talks

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(Last Updated On: September 21, 2020)

Clashes have intensified between the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and Taliban militants in 14 provinces in the past ten days – inflicting heavy casualties on both sides. 

Government sources said clashes have been recorded in 33 districts in total and that at least 30 members of the ANDSF and 401 Taliban insurgents have been killed in the skirmishes. 

In addition, 126 ANDSF members and 114 militants have been wounded.

Sources said the Taliban has in this time increased attacks against government forces in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Logar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Kandahar, Kunduz, Takhar, Baghlan, Badakhshan, Balkh, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.

Details of civilian casualties were not however released. 

Concerns continue to rise regarding the escalation in violence, with global leaders calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. 

On Monday, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad voiced his concern and called for an immediate reduction in violence. 

In a post on Twitter, Khalilzad said: “Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan. 

“This escalation is regrettable as Afghans, including many civilians, are losing their lives. 

“Given the recent start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations, it is imperative all sides reduce violence significantly,” he said.

This comes as Afghan negotiators and the Taliban’s talks team discuss intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha. 

However, a marked increase in violence has been evident over the past ten days – specifically since the start of the peace talks. 

Citing UN figures, EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia said on Friday violence in Afghanistan in the last five weeks has been “the highest in the last five years”. 

 

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Calls grow for a ceasefire on International Day of Peace

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(Last Updated On: September 21, 2020)

Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo on Monday said that peace in Afghanistan is within reach as the talks currently underway in Doha are a historical opportunity to find a political settlement and resolution to the decades-old war. 

Marking the International Day of Peace, Pontecorvo said the start of peace talks, in Doha a week ago, was a milestone and ushered in a new phase in the peace process. 

“Today, most Afghans have not had the fortune of experiencing their country at peace, still they are hopeful,” he said adding they were hopeful for a sustainable and lasting peace that ends violence and safeguards the human rights of all Afghans. 

He said it was about upholding the rights especially for women, children, ethnic minorities; preserving the hard-won gains of the past 20 years; upholds the rule of law and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists. 

He also stated that NATO’s goal in Afghanistan was to support the country and help attain lasting peace and security. 

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry also issued a short statement on Twitter and thanked the country’s international partners for working closely with government in its efforts to bring about peace. “Let’s work together to make sustainable peace for all Afghans possible, urging Taliban to respect the wish of Afghan public for ceasefire,” their tweet read. 

The High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Chairman Abdullah Abdullah also issued a statement on the occasion of the International Day of Peace. 

He called on the Taliban to end the violence and embrace a ceasefire.

He said Afghanistan is at a historic juncture and that the ongoing talks are aimed at reaching a lasting agreement and peace.

“People are tired of the ongoing wars and conflicts. History has proved that war is not the solution to conflicts, and only talks can pave the way for a peaceful life,” the statement read.

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

 

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Atmar, Wilson discuss peace process, urgent need for ceasefire

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(Last Updated On: September 21, 2020)

Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Haneef Atmar on Sunday met with US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson to discuss the peace process. 

In a statement issued Monday, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The two sides discussed the start of peace talks, expressing satisfaction with the progress so far, and optimism for attaining a sustainable peace.” 

They also discussed priorities the Afghan government needs to address, “namely calling on the Taliban movement to agree to a comprehensive ceasefire and the development of a mechanism for monitoring violence reduction.” 

The two sides also discussed opportunities for expanding trilateral relations between Afghanistan, the United States and Central Asian countries as part of regional mobilization for the Afghan peace process. 

Their talks around a reduction in violence comes amid a sharp rise in attacks around the country in the past few days. 

On Monday morning, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also called for an urgent reduction in violence – which has systematically increased since the signing of the Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban in February.

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