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Prisoner release process ‘delaying’ start to talks: Taliban 

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(Last Updated On: September 8, 2020)

Newly appointed spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Mohammad Naeem Wardak, said overnight that the prisoner release process has not been finalized and only once this is complete will negotiations start. 

In what is possibly his first official comment as the new spokesman, Wardak posted his message on Twitter and said: “The process of release of prisoners of the Islamic Emirate [Taliban] has not been finalized yet, the release of some prisoners is still pending and work is underway.”

He then said once the prisoner release process is complete, the group’s negotiating team will be ready to start intra-Afghan negotiations. 

No further details were given but Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Monday that there were no “major issues” causing the delay, adding that they were waiting for six prisoners to be released.

These six are responsible for having killed Australian and French nationals and instead of being freed will reportedly be sent to Qatar where they will be held under supervision. 

This comes after the Taliban negotiating team held its first meeting on Sunday to discuss intra-Afghan negotiations, a statement from the group read. 

According to the group, the meeting was chaired by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Haqqani was introduced as the new head of the Taliban’s negotiating team, and Mohammad Naeem Wardak as the spokesman.   

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Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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Pakistan seal semi-final T20 World Cup spot after beating Namibia 

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(Last Updated On: November 2, 2021)

Pakistan defeated Namibia by 45 runs on Tuesday night in Abu Dhabi to become the first side to qualify for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2021.

Chasing a formidable target of 190, Namibia gave a good account of their ability and promise and eventually finished with 144-5 as Pakistan collected the two points they needed to go through to the next round.

Pakistan’s total is the second-highest in this tournament, behind Afghanistan’s 190-4 against Scotland in Sharjah.

Afghanistan’s next T20 World Cup match is on Wednesday against India.

 

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US administers over 420 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines

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(Last Updated On: October 31, 2021)

The United States has administered 420,657,683 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 518,701,225 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The agency said 221,221,467 people had received at least one dose, while 192,244,927 people were fully vaccinated as of 6am on Saturday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, Reuters reported.

About 17.7 million people have received a booster dose of either Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

On November 8, the United States is lifting the extraordinary travel restrictions that have barred most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. 

It is also imposing new rules requiring nearly all foreign adult air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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