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Khalilzad ‘would welcome’ talks with Iran to help end conflict 

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2020)

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday Washington had offered to meet with Iran in a bid to garner their assistance to end the war in Afghanistan. 

Speaking at a virtual discussion by the US Institute of Peace, Khalilzad said he would welcome talks with Afghanistan’s neighbor but said Tehran wanted to keep the US “entangled” in the conflict. 

“Iran would like to keep us entangled in a conflict without winning or losing but paying a high price in Afghanistan until there is an agreement between the US and Iran,” Khalilzad said.

“But we have offered to meet with Iranians on this issue, that they should join various forums where we are there and they are there, to discuss the future of Afghanistan,” he said.

However, Khalilzad warned that the US would target any Iran-backed groups that took “action against” America and that Washington is monitoring them closely. 

Khalilzad also said that there was “no viable path” to a military victory in Afghanistan.

But Khalilzad noted that plans to downsize the number of US troops in Afghanistan, before a complete withdrawal, was all conditional.

Iran has denounced the agreement negotiated by Khalilzad between the US and the Taliban, which envisions a US troops withdrawal by April next year. Iran has accused Washington of legitimizing the Taliban.

 

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Brazilian volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine trial dies 

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Brazilian health authority Anvisa confirmed a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but said the trial would continue.

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial,” Reuters reported.

A source told Reuters the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis vaccination.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which confirmed the volunteer was Brazilian, said a review committee had suggested the trial continue. 

The university is helping to coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil.

 

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Saleh rejects claims of civilians killed in Takhar airstrike

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday rejected claims of civilian casualties, including children, following an airstrike in Takhar province on Wednesday night. 

In a message on Facebook, Saleh said: “The news of the killing of children in the mosque in Takhar is baseless.”

Referring to Tuesday night’s attack by the Taliban in the same province – which left more than 50 Afghan national security force members dead – Saleh said: “Those who buried our forces yesterday have been destroyed and we have undeniable proof.”

Earlier, security sources stated at least 12 people were killed and 14 wounded in the airstrike which they stated had targeted a mosque in Taloqan city.

Security sources said among the victims were children and the mosque’s imam.

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Two Romanian soldiers wounded in Kandahar IED explosion

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2020)

Two Romanian soldiers were wounded on Wednesday evening when the vehicle they were patrolling in hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar. 

In a Twitter post on Thursday, NATO’s Resolute Support mission stated: “On 21 Oct, a NATO Ground Defense Area patrol in Kandahar Province struck an IED injuring two Romanian soldiers. Coalition forces regularly conduct GDA patrols in the immediate areas surrounding bases.”

The Romanian Defense Ministry said a convoy of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles had been on patrol.

“The Romanian military was traveling with a convoy of MRAP vehicles in the Kandahar region. The explosive device went off when the last vehicle in the column passed. Sergeant Adrian Ioan Czifrak and Second Class Corporal Iosif Ioan Reman were injured as a result of the explosion,” the ministry reported.

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