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Moscow format wraps up, participants reaffirm commitment to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Participants of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan said in a statement on Thursday that they all respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and that further practical engagement with Afghanistan was needed.

In a joint statement issued by special representatives from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, they said the sides “reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan as a peaceful, indivisible, independent, economically developing State, free of terrorism and drug-related crime and respecting the basic norms in the human rights area.”

This comes after Wednesday’s high-level meeting in Moscow that involved representatives from 10 countries and a high-level delegation from Afghanistan, including Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi.

The United States did not attend the key meeting and cited logistical problems as the reason for their non-attendance.

It was stated that further practical engagement with Afghanistan needed to take into account the new reality, that is the Islamic Emirate coming to power in the country, “irrespective of the official recognition of the new Afghan government by the international community.”

Participating countries also called on the current Afghan leadership to take further steps to improve governance and to form a truly inclusive government that adequately reflects the interests of all major ethno-political forces in the country.

“This will be a fundamental prerequisite for the completion of the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

The participating countries also called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to practice moderate and sound internal and external policies, adopt friendly policies towards neighboring countries, achieve the shared goals of durable peace, security, safety, and long-term prosperity, and respect the rights of ethnic groups, women and children.

“Being concerned about the activities of proscribed terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, the sides reaffirmed their willingness to continue to promote security in Afghanistan to contribute to regional stability.

“The participating countries were pleased to note the reaffirmation by the interim Afghan government of its previous commitments to prevent use of the Afghan territory against its neighbours, other States in the region and the rest of the world,” the statement read.

Expressing deep concern over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the sides expressed the need for the international community to mobilize consolidated efforts to provide urgent humanitarian and economic assistance to the Afghan people.

“In this context, the sides have proposed to launch a collective initiative to convene a broad-based international donor conference under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, certainly with the understanding that the core burden of post-conflict economic and financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by troop-based actors which were in the country for the past 20 years,” the statement read.

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IEA calls on former govt officials and ex-politicians to return home

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on former government officials and members of the political opposition to return to the country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who officially assumed duties on Sunday, said that former officials have the right to live as normal citizens in Afghanistan.

“We are in touch with all opposition [members]. We have urged them to return as Afghans; but should not expect to be appointed as a minister again,” Stanikzai said.

He has also called on foreign countries to reopen their embassies in Kabul.

“Their (foreign countries) ambassadors [for Afghanistan] are present in Qatar and opened embassies there, they (ambassadors) live in hotels and are in contact with us in order to have negotiations with us on various issues,” he noted.

Meanwhile, a high-level delegation led by Acting Foreign Minister Mawlavi Amir Khan Muttaqi is in Doha for talks with the EU and the United States.

Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the IEa’s political office in Qatar, told Ariana News that talks with the US delegation would begin on Monday.

The release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets and the reopening of embassies in Kabul and humanitarian aid are the main topics of the talks.

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New coronavirus variant Omicron keeps spreading, Australia detects cases

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

The new Omicron coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with two cases detected in Australia, even as more countries tried to seal themselves off by imposing travel restrictions.

Health officials in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine, NSW Health said. Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while around 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

The Australian cases were the latest indication that the variant may prove hard to contain. First discovered in South Africa, it has since been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong. Austria was investigating a suspected case on Sunday.

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” last week by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Many countries have imposed a wave of travel bans.

In the most far-reaching effort to keep the variant at bay, Israel announced late on Saturday it would ban the entry of all foreigners and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days. Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective vaccines are against Omicron.

Many countries have imposed or are planning restrictions on travel from southern Africa. The South African government denounced this on Saturday as unfair and potentially harmful to its economy – saying it is being punished for its scientific ability to identify coronavirus variants early.

In Britain, where two linked cases of Omicron identified on Saturday were connected to travel to southern Africa, the government announced measures to try to contain the spread, including stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country and requiring mask wearing in some settings.

The German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant on Saturday. In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

Although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating, many countries – including the United States, Brazil, Canada, European Union nation

Hanafi says that during 20 years of occupation there are 5 million addicts, among them 1 million are women and children.

Hanafi says that if TAPI project is implemented, Afghanistan will earn annually around $1 billion dollars through its transit rights.

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Cold and without shelter, migrants in northern France have narrow options

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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)

NGO workers and independent volunteers tended to migrants in a makeshift camp in Loon-Plage on Saturday, as the cold weather posed greater risks to their health.

Many migrants remained undeterred to cross the English Channel to Britain despite a recent dinghy capsizing that claimed the lives of 27.

“What happened last week, is the result of the pressure on exiled people which makes them take all kinds of risks and try to cross to Britain, whatever the weather. Because living here is simply impossible,” Salam NGO worker Pascaline Delaby told Reuters.

Seventeen men, seven women and three teenagers died on Wednesday (November 24) when their dinghy deflated in the Channel, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, overloaded boats by people fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

A makeshift camp with tents has formed in Loon-Plage, near the site of a recently dismantled larger encampment in Grande-Synthe. Here, exposed to the elements, migrants gathered around fires, some wrapped in blankets.

When volunteers arrive, they queue for warm clothing, food, or a cup of coffee or tea.

Others received medical care from NGO workers treating wounds stemming from walking over long distances or the bitter cold.

“It’s a great concern to us that it’s getting colder, especially with people being evicted through the winter,” said First Aid Support Team NGO worker Helen Roberts.

She added that the cold weather also increased the risks of diseases such as pneumonia.

French authorities routinely dismantle migrant camps along the coast in an effort to discourage migrants from coming and attempting the crossing to Great Britain.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is convening his counterparts from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the EU in Calais on Sunday (November 28), to tackle the migrant crisis.

UK Home Minister Priti Patel was disinvited to the meeting, after British Prime Minister Borish Johnson poster on Twitter a letter addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron, in which he insisted that France agree on joint patrols on its shores and consent to taking back the migrants that make it to Britain.

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