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Taliban killer of Australian soldiers among six transferred to Qatar 

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2020)

Australia said early Friday that among the six Taliban prisoners flown to Qatar from Kabul was Hekmatullah, who killed three off-duty Australian soldiers in 2012 in an insider attack. 

Australia steadfastly opposed the release of Hekmatullah as part of the prisoner release program as per the Doha agreement between the United States and Taliban in February. 

In a joint statement issued Friday morning by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Linda Reynolds, Minister of Defense, the Australian government said they understand Hekmatullah will be held in detention in Qatar with five other high-risk prisoners. 

“The Government of Qatar has undertaken to the Government of Afghanistan and to the United States to keep these detainees confined and isolated,” the statement read. 

The ministers said Australia had worked hard with the United States, the Afghan government and other nations, including the British and French governments, since February this year “to keep Hekmatullah in detention, and to keep these six sensitive prisoners separate from the wider goodwill agreement.” 

“Australia is not the only country that objects to the release of this most dangerous group of prisoners. Other countries, including France, have joined calls for dangerous criminals not to be released.”

The ministers stated that they were not party to the intra-Afghan talks nor were they standing in the way of intra-Afghan negotiations and instead they fully support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. 

“We recognize that there is no military solution to violence in Afghanistan. A negotiated political peace settlement is the only way to find a genuine conclusion to conflict, external militant interference, and terrorism.”

They also said they recognize and appreciate the Afghan government’s decision to move the prisoners to Qatar as in doing so it recognizes and respects the concerns of the countries that want to see justice served. 

 

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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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