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Taliban state they ‘are not ready’ for the Istanbul Conference

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2021)

The Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Monday the group is not ready to participate at the Istanbul Conference scheduled to start on April 16.

Naeem told Ariana News that if a later date is set, the group will hold discussions on whether to attend and will then “share the details of our decisions.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan government and the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) are working to finalize the list of Turkey conference participants that will represent the Republic.

Sources said that 19 people – including politicians, government officials, and representatives of Afghan women – are expected to attend the conference.
According to the source, Chairman of the HCNR Abdullah Abdullah, Former President Hamid Karzai, Former Mujahidin leader Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Jamiat-e-Islami Leader Salahuddin Rabbani, Former Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili, Former Vice President Yunus Qanuni, Former Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, NSA Hamdullah Mohib, Sayeed Hamid Gailani, President’s Advisor for Political and Security Affairs Mohammad Mohaqiq, Chief Negotiator Masoom Stanekzai, Salam Rahimi, Deputy HCNR Hajji Din Mohammad, Habiba Sarabi, Fawzia Koofi, Fatima Gailani, and Hizb-e-Islami Leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are expected to attend the Istanbul Conference from the Islamic Republic side.

The HCNR, however, said this list is not finalized, adding “changes could be made in the list. Most of the participants are leading politicians.”

This comes as the US, UN, Turkey, and Qatar have handed over guiding principles for the Istanbul Summit to the Afghan government and the Taliban.

A document seen by Ariana News shows that there are nine guiding principles that could help the negotiating parties reach an agreement on some key points ahead of the Istanbul conference.

The principles include:

1- A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire is needed for the country
2- Conducting joint work for the restoration of peace without mutual accusation
3- Political partnership under Islamic principles
4- Formation of an inclusive and accountable participatory government
5- Future political arrangements need to reflect the diversity of Afghan society by way of providing equal rights for all citizens and without discrimination
6- Protecting and supporting human rights in Afghanistan
7- Future government will implement a balanced socio-economic development program to cope with poverty in Afghanistan
8- Afghanistan will maintain friendly relations with its neighbors, the region, and the international community
9- The two parties have to engage in peaceful negotiations in order to implement these principles

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Australian cricketers flee India for Maldives after IPL abandoned

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Australian cricketers playing in this year’s IPL fled COVID-ravaged India for the Maldives Thursday, but New Zealand’s top stars are stuck in Delhi until May 11, the earliest they can secure exemptions to enter England where they are due to play a Test series.

AFP reports that cricket authorities have been rushing to evacuate players and support staff after the Indian Premier League was abandoned this week.

India reported 3,980 deaths and more than 412,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

While most overseas-based players headed home, the Australians, including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, are unable to do so after Canberra closed its borders and threatened anyone entering from India with jail time.

They must wait until at least May 15, when the travel ban will be reviewed.

In the meantime, the 37 players, coaches, officials and TV commentators left for the Maldives, reportedly on a charter flight arranged and paid for by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association can confirm Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators have been safely transported from India and are en route to the Maldives,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

“The Australians will remain in the Maldives until the conclusion of the travel pause pertaining to flights from India to Australia.”

They are likely to be chartered back to Australia once the ban has been lifted, again with the help of the BCCI.

But Chennai Super Kings batting coach Mike Hussey was not among the travelling party, forced to remain in isolation after testing positive to the virus.

Cricket Australia said he was “experiencing mild symptoms” and would remain in the care of the Super Kings until it was safe for him to return to Australia.

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Stoltenberg says NATO allies looking at how to provide support in ‘new chapter’

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Speaking at a meeting of European Union Defence Ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the drawdown of NATO’s Resolute Training mission was underway, but said the end of NATO’s mission does not mean the end of the Alliance’s relationship with Afghanistan.

Allies are looking at how they can continue to provide financial and training support to Afghan forces, Stoltenberg said.

He also said NATO has sent a strong message to the Taliban “that any attack on NATO troops will be met with a forceful response.

“The drawdown of NATO troops and the end of the Resolute Support Mission is not the end to our partnership with Afghanistan. It is actually opening up a new chapter,” he said.

“We are now looking into how we can continue to provide support. We are looking at ways to provide financial support, support with training and also supporting the national community in Afghanistan.”

“NATO of course strongly supported the peace process and a negotiated peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is the best way to maintain the achievements we have made together over the last (two) decades,” Stoltenberg said.

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Former TV anchor assassinated in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Nemat Rawan, a former TV anchor currently working for the Ministry of Finance, was killed in an armed attack by at least two gunmen in Kandahar on Thursday, officials confirmed.

Kandahar police said that Rawan was assassinated in PD14 of Kandahar city.

His relatives also confirmed the shooting.

Rawan worked in the media department at the Ministry of Finance but until recently was a program anchor for TOLOnews.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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