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No Pre-determined Timeline Governing U.S. Commitment to Afghanistan: Envoy

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2017)

U.S. envoy in Kabul Hug Llorens has said there is no pre-determined timeline governing their commitment to Afghanistan.

In his remarks about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s travel to the region, Special Chargé d’Affaires LIorens said Tillerson after his discussion with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah said, “We are here to stay until we can secure a process of reconciliation and peace.”

Tillerson traveled for the first time to South Asia to reaffirm and hold in-depth discussions on the U.S. South Asia strategy with senior officials.

LIorens said the Secretary believed that it was important to meet with Afghanistan’s leaders here in Afghanistan at the beginning of the trip.

In his excellent October 23 meeting with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah at Bagram Airfield, the Secretary made clear that the United States is firmly committed to working with the government and people of Afghanistan to create conditions for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan free from terrorists, insurgents and the extremists who directly threaten the security of Afghanistan, the United States, and our partners entire world.

“This beautiful land, full of tremendous hope and promise, matters not just to the region, but also to the entire world.”

“The United States and our partners are committed to helping Afghanistan root out extremism and deny safe havens to terrorists.”

LIorens said the Secretary made clear that there are too many terrorist groups that find sanctuary and a safe place in Pakistan from which to conduct their nefarious operations and attacks against other countries.

 The Secretary also pointed out that the terrorists operating out of Pakistan were growing in strength and capability and represented a direct threat to Afghanistan, all of the nations in the region, and Pakistan itself.

Tillerson also pointed out that their ultimate aim must to be to support peace between the National Unity government and those Taliban willing to reconcile.

“Such a peace settlement would be vital to the region’s long-term stability.  In fact, Secretary Tillerson expressed interest in the Taliban bringing moderate voices to discuss peace and reconciliation with the Afghan government.”

” At the same time, he was unhesitant in his statement that those unwilling to come to the peace table and who continue committing terrorist acts will be dealt with harshly. “

Tillerson and Ghani in their meeting agreed that regional collaboration is critical to achieving a peaceful, stable, and prosperous future for Afghanistan.

President Ghani assured Secretary Tillerson that his government is firmly committed to implement reforms under the Afghanistan-U.S. Compact, including holding credible and inclusive parliamentary elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019.

According to LIorens, good governance and security are but two parts to the  South Asia strategy, and of the Afghanistan-U.S. Compact.  “Afghanistan is blessed with a bounty of resources.”

He said Afghan government must adopt market-based policies to attract private sector investment as the best and only viable means to create sustainable growth and create the jobs of the future for millions of Afghans.

“The United States and our partners will stand by the Afghan people in the fight against our enemies until the job gets done.  We will also continue to build on the incredible progress Afghanistan has achieved in the last 16 years.  I am confident that together, we can achieve a peaceful and sustainable future for Afghanistan and its people.”

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MIT-designed robot disinfects warehouse floor in 30 minutes

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed a robot that can disinfect a floor of a 4,000-square foot warehouse in 30 minutes, and it can be used to clean grocery stores or schools one day, CNN reported.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in cooperation with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) developed a robot which can disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the Coronavirus using a custom UV-C light.

CNN said, “Development on this project began in early April, and one of the researchers said that it came in direct response to the pandemic. The results have been encouraging enough that the researchers say that autonomous UV disinfection could be done in other environments such as supermarkets, factories, and restaurants.”

Covid-19 mainly spreads via airborne transmission, and it is capable of remaining on surfaces for several days. An autonomous robot capable of quickly and efficiently cleaning large areas such as warehouses or grocery stores could prove to be essential.

UV-C light has proven effective at killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces, the researchers said. However, it is harmful to humans. The robot was built to be autonomous without the need for any direct supervision or interaction.

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Afghan gov’t to decide on remaining Taliban prisoners

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

The Afghan government said that it will decide the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners on Sunday, a step advancing to the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations

Sources in the government say that the decision about the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners will be taken on Sunday, to begin Intra-Afghan Talks soon.

Sources say the Afghan government opposes the release of about 100 Taliban prisoners involved in deadly attacks and organized crime, however, the full prisoner release was set as a precondition to the start of Intra-Afghan talks by the Taliban.

“Many of those released are not nice people. They clearly were at least in warfare against the Afghan people, so the government has been forthcoming courageous in trying to take these steps and actions as a way to build confidence,” said Ross Wilson, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, sources associated with the Afghan government say that a decision will be made tomorrow Sunday to release several hundred more Taliban prisoners. According to these sources, the decision will be taken to start the Intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.

“The Afghan government has taken all the necessary steps to start negotiations between the Afghans. We expect the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Afghan government by reducing violence,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Peace.

According to Afghan government statistics, nearly 4,000 Taliban prisoners have been released so far. The Taliban have also said they have released more than 700 government-affiliated prisoners.

“If the agreement is not reached, the Taliban will not take part in the Afghan talks,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Negotiations between Afghans are expected to take place in Doha this month, but the escalation of violence by the Taliban and the government’s failure to release some Taliban prisoners are seen as a barrier to the talks. The United States has called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take immediate action against the ongoing Afghan conflict.

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COVID-19; Ghazanfar’s body laid to rest in Balkh

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, the President’s Special Envoy for development, economic, commercial, and alleviation of poverty affairs has died of Coronavirus. 

The Presidential Palace issued a statement called the death of Ghazanfar as a great loss for the country; saying he had “served the country.”

Yousuf Ghazanfar’s body was laid to rest in Mazar-e-Sharif in a special ceremony attended by a number of government officials.

The presidential palace says that Mohammad Yusuf Ghazanfar’s was a “pious, benevolent and nationalist figure” who was always striving for progress and development in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce considers Yousuf Ghazanfar’s functions to be very valuable for economic development in the country.

Yousuf Ghazanfar was under treatment in Turkey after contracting the coronavirus.

The funeral ceremony for Ghazanfar was held at the Presidential Palace as well while his corpse was being buried in Balkh on Saturday evening.

The ceremony was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, the First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, a number of cabinet ministers, high-ranking government officials, and a number of prominent figures of the country.

The President and other participants paid tribute and prayed for the soul of the late Yousuf Ghazanfar and wished the deceased a happy paradise.

Ghazanfar died of coronavirus at a hospital in Ankara, Turkey on Friday evening.

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