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Taliban Meets Afghan Gov’t Delegation in Saudi Arabia: Report

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2018)

Representatives from the Taliban met an Afghan government delegation in Saudi Arabia this week to discuss security ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections and a limited prisoner release, three Taliban officials said as reported by Reuters.

The upcoming parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held on October 20.  However, insecurity is considered to be a major challenge for the upcoming elections.

The government and the international community seek to ensure the election passes off smoothly and without violence.

“They requested us to help them conduct peaceful elections,” said one of the Taliban leaders.

“The Afghan delegation has agreed with us on the release of prisoners,” he said, adding that some prisoners facing minor charges had already been released and officials had divided up others into three categories, depending on their importance, for future release.

According to Reuters, President Ashraf Ghani’s office and the U.S. State Department declined to comment. No comment was available from Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman.

 Citing Taliban representatives on condition of anonymity, the report said that the meeting in Saudi Arabia came after plans for another meeting with American officials broke down over U.S. demands for a three-month ceasefire.

“Some of our senior people were not in the favor of holding talks with the Afghan government as until now we were calling them puppets and refused to meet them,” said one senior Taliban leader in Qatar as quoted by Reuters.

“But our proposed meeting with the Americans failed to take place due to certain reasons,” he said.

The officials said U.S. demands for a ceasefire was something the leadership could not agree to. As a result, no formal meeting was held although there were informal contacts.

“Our agreement for holding the meeting was only to discuss prisoner exchange and the removal of our people from the UN black list so they can travel,” said one senior Taliban leader from the movement’s political office in Qatar as cited by Reuters.

Business

Da Afghanistan Bank sees increase in gross reserves

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank, has reached more than $9 billion for the first time.

Officials at the bank said that although the global aid to Afghanistan has declined, they have succeeded to increase the bank’s reserves.

Economists also underline that the central bank’s efforts will lure global funds.

The bank’s authority has stated that they have, for the first time, been able to increase the GDP to over $9 billion.

According to them, last year about AFN22 billion was deposited in the government reserves through investments in foreign financial institutions.

Although the Coronavirus pandemic has devalued Afghan currency against the dollar, the authority is pushing for effective programs to keep the value of the currency afloat, they said.

Welcoming the strengthening of the gross reserves of DAB, experts say that the central bank’s efforts would attract global funds for good.

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COVID-19

Concerns over Coronavirus rapid outbreak in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

The COVID19 outbreak status in Afghanistan has turned disastrous, as there are few health measures in hand.

The Ministry of Public Health says 680 new cases of the Coronavirus have been tested positive in the last 24 hours hiking the count of the infected to 15,205 in Afghanistan.

The ministry underlines that there are no sufficient gears to reach out to all patients and that any negligence will have dire consequences for the nation.

“Some 1,112 samples have been examined in the past 24 hours, of which 680 have tested positive, with eight deaths,” said Wahidullah Majrooh, deputy of the MOPH.

He added: “Unfortunately, Coronavirus scope has widened and the tragedy is imminent, and our only hope is the cooperation of the people. If they cooperate, we can control the situation.”

“The consumption of oxygen alone is very high overnight, while there is so little of the product.”

Nonetheless, the health ministry reiterates that health workers are ready to provide services to the people in any situation and to fight against the pandemic with whatever is available.

In the meantime, the Herat department of hajj and religious affairs has warned the imams in the province to strictly follow and pass on health guidelines instructions while leading the prayers, or else, they will be dismissed of their duties.

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COVID-19

Al-Aqsa Mosque reopens to worshippers – Jerusalem

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2020)

After over two months of lockdown for the Coronavirus, Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been reopened, international news agencies.

The Council of Islamic Waqf, which oversees Muslim sites on the complex, said the restriction was lifted after the virus’ spread slowed down locally.

The council also imposed some precautionary measures to reduce the risk of contagion at Islam’s third-holiest site.

That is, worshippers must wear face masks and bring personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.

It worth mentioning that the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Islam.

The mosque was built on top of the Temple Mount, known as the Al Aqsa Compound or Haram-e-Sharif in Islam.

Celebrating the reopening, dozens of Muslims gathered in front of the large wooden doors, pronouncing, “God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood.”

Reportedly, the resumption of prayers capped a somber period for Jerusalem’s Muslims, who this year marked the fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday without their usual daily visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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