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Russia is ready to return to Moscow format of talks on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 22, 2021)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that Russia is ready to return to the ‘Moscow format’ of peace talks on Afghanistan.

Moscow format refers to series of meetings held since 2016 in the Russian capital with representatives of Afghan parties as well as interested countries taking part, Reuters reported.

Lavrov said that Moscow advocated a transitional power-sharing government which would lead to resolving the situation in the country.

Earlier this week Lavrov discussed the Afghan situation with counterparts from the U.S., China and Turkey.

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Democracy should be used to benefit people, not for decoration: CMG president

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2021)

Democracy should not be used for decoration since the true function of it is to improve people’s well-being, Reuters quoting Shen Haixiong, president of the China Media Group (CMG), while addressing the International Forum on Democracy in Beijing on Saturday.

Dignitaries and intellectuals from over 120 countries, regions, and more than 20 international organizations participated in the event.

“We have an old saying in China that ‘oranges grown south of the Huai River are true oranges; once transplanted to the north of the river, they become trifoliate oranges.’ Whether one’s shoes fit, only the wearer himself or herself knows. Over the years, the U.S. has ignored the huge differences in history and national conditions of different countries, and tried to impose the ‘U.S.-style of democracy’ in other regions, causing great harm to world peace and stability,” said Shen.

The various social problems and divisions faced by the U.S. have dented America’s image as a beacon for global democracy, Shen noted.

“From the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to the death toll from COVID-19 hitting new records again and again, the U.S. halo as a beacon for global democracy has markedly faded, and the U.S.-style democracy is clearly ailing,” the CMG president said.

Shen also said CMG’s reports on the Afghanistan situation have exposed the hypocrisy of the U.S.-style democracy, Reuters reported.

“In the reports of the recent Afghanistan situation, the exclusive video news released by the China Global Television Network under China Media Group (CMG) have become a major source of information for the global media. These videos have revealed the truth of the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by the U.S. army and the endless pain brought to the Afghan people. CMG has delivered objective and true first-hand information to the world,” said Shen.

He pointed out that democracy should really work for the people, otherwise it would be useless no matter how good its facade is.

“Now, more and more people with insights around the world have come to realize whether a country is a democracy or not should be judged by its own people, not by a few outsiders. Democracy is not an ornament used for decoration. What really matters is that it actually works. If it can’t truly put people first and improve people’s well-being, no matter how delicate the ornament is or how exquisite the rhetoric is, this kind of democracy is just bragging and deceiving oneself as well as others. Can people like George Floyd enjoy the ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ as claimed by U.S. politicians?” said Shen.

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Kabul’s air pollution a serious ‘threat to life’, say doctors

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Doctors warned Sunday that the air pollution level in Kabul is dangerously high and that it was threatening the lives of many people.

One doctor Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, who spoke to Ariana News, said: “Air pollution is a serious and dangerous problem in Kabul.”

Doctors and resident’s called on government to take measures to stop people from burning fuels such as plastic and rubber and get them to rather use gas or electricity.

“People burn coal and other materials that produce smoke. That should be stopped,” said Mohammad Rasoul, a Kabul resident.

“People should use gas and electricity if they can afford it and avoid burning plastic and coal,” said Sohrab, another Kabul resident.

Kabul Municipality meanwhile said efforts are being made to reduce the air pollution level and that they have closed down a number of bathhouses, that burn fuel to heat the water.

Naimatullah Barakzai, the municipality’s head of public awareness and publications department, said that among the central heating systems used in the city are two that run on gas.

According to him there are at least 1,100 other types but these run on coal and wood.

Barakzai said while the municipality would like more people to use gas furnaces and heaters, most of them are not able to afford it.

He said if the people had the money they would rather use “modern equipment”.

Kabul’s air pollution levels increase dramatical each winter as people make fires to keep warm. But, poverty-stricken residents often resort to burning toxic materials such as plastic, car tyres and coal to heat their homes.

In addition to this, the city lies in a valley surrounded by towering Hindu Kush mountain peaks, which reduces the mixing of air, particularly in winter when temperature inversions regularly form and with little rain to remove the pollution from the atmosphere, this accumulates during winter.

Afghanistan documented nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to air pollution in 2020 – deaths due to respiratory and heart diseases that were considered to be caused by air pollution, a health official said in January.

Kabul meanwhile was also considered the world’s worst polluted city last year and is on track to remain among the most polluted cities in 2021.

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Qatar in talks with Turkey on managing Kabul Airport

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Qatar’s foreign minister said that discussions are being held with Turkey about them taking responsibility for the operational control of Kabul International Airport.

Addressing the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome on Saturday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all issues around fully reopening Kabul airport are being discussed with Turkish officials.

This comes after airlines stopped flying into Kabul at the end of August. However, limited commercial flights resumed in recent weeks, including Afghanistan’s Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, as well as Pakistan’s PIA. Qatar Airways has also had regular chartered flights into Kabul.

Al-Thani meanwhile said Doha officials have been hard at work to get the Kabul airport fully operational.

“We have been working together very closely on the issue of the airport, whether on the assessment of requirements to get the airport operational again, or on the management agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government to operate the airport in the future.”

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that in the event of a contract being drawn up with a foreign country, national interests will be preserved.

“No contract for Kabul International Airport has been signed so far. We have made our conditions clear for companies based on our national interests. If company’s respect our national interests, we will sign contracts with them,” said Amamudin Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ACAA.

 

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