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Taliban to visit Pakistan’s foreign ministry for ‘formal talks’

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 25, 2020)

A delegation from the Taliban’s Qatar office will visit Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for formal talks on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed. 

Qureshi confirmed this during a press conference on Monday but did not provide any further details on who the delegation would meet nor on how long they were expected to be in Pakistan. 

The delegation, led by Mullah Abdul Baradar, the director of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, is in Pakistan at the invitation of the foreign ministry and members are expected to discuss matters around the Afghan peace negotiations. 

Baradar spent nearly eight years in prison in Pakistan before being freed in 2018 at the United State’s request. 

This is the second time the Taliban’s political team is visiting Pakistan. In October last year, the team first met Pakistan officials. 

Qureshi meanwhile raised this at the press conference and said the October visit had eventually led to the signing of the US-Taliban agreement in Doha in February. 

He said the Taliban had been invited again in the hope that stumbling blocks in the way of starting intra-Afghan talks could be ironed out so that talks could start soon. 

On Sunday, Suheil Shaheen, the Taliban’s political office spokesman, said in a series of tweets that the delegation would discuss a number of issues with Pakistani officials. 

The delegation will hold talks with senior Pakistani officials about recent developments in Afghanistan’s peace process, relaxation and facilitation of peoples’ movement and trade between the two neighboring countries, issues related to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and other related topics,” he said on Twitter. 

He also stated: Delegations of the Political Office will pay more visits to other countries in near future as well.”

This comes just days after Pakistan imposed sanctions on individuals and “terrorist associated groups”, including Baradar, in keeping with the United Nations Security Council resolutions in order to avoid being demoted from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

Included in the measures taken, which would theoretically directly affect Baradar, Pakistan imposed a travel ban on 88 individuals and seized bank accounts and assets belonging to terrorists in the country. 

In a statement last week, the Foreign Ministry said: “The sanctions are being implemented by Pakistan in compliance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and we hope that other countries will also follow suit.” 

This notification comes ahead of the crucial FATF meeting in October which will see the force assess Pakistan’s progress in fighting crimes such as money laundering and terror financing. 

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering and supporting Taliban leaders but Islamabad has continued to deny the charges.

Pakistan meanwhile has been on FATF’s grey list since June 2018 and was given a final warning in February.

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Gov’t expresses concern over Armenia, Azerbaijan clashes

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday expressed its concerns over the ongoing clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

The ministry said in a statement that the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been recognized internationally as a part of Azerbaijan and as such Afghanistan calls for the end to clashes and “supports the efforts by the people and government of Azerbaijan and other nations of the world in this regard”. 

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for re-establishing the ceasefire and resolving the region’s long-standing crisis peacefully,” the statement read. 

At least 21 people were killed on Monday in a second day of heavy clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan that reportedly involved airpower, missiles and heavy armor.

The confrontation between the two former Soviet republics has rekindled concern over stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

Any move to all-out conflict could drag in major regional powers Russia and Turkey, Reuters reported. 

Moscow has a defense alliance with Armenia, while Ankara backs its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

Majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan have come to blows periodically in their decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians.

Armenia’s parliament condemned what it said was a “full-scale military attack” by Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh that was receiving Turkey’s help, adding that Ankara’s involvement could risk destabilizing the region. Azerbaijan denied its ally Turkey was taking part in the fighting.

 

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India’s COVID-19 caseload now over six million mark

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

India’s confirmed coronavirus tally has bypassed the six million mark with another 82,170 cases reported in the past 24 hours. 

The health ministry reported that the COVID-19 caseload was now at 6,074,703.

At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542.

New infections in India, the world’s second-most populous country, are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world and are expected to surpass the US tally, which is at 7.1 million, within the next few weeks. 

According to Johns Hopkins University data, almost one in every three new infections reported in the world and one in every five reported coronavirus deaths came from India.

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Abdullah hopes Pakistan visit will ‘open new chapter’ in relations

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said early Monday morning his visit to Islamabad will prove a unique opportunity for Afghanistan and Pakistan to exchange views on the intra-Afghan negotiations. 

In a post on Twitter, Abdullah said “I hope this visit will open a new chapter of mutual cooperation at all levels, especially on achieving a lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan.”

He also confirmed he will leave for Islamabad Monday, for an official three-day visit and will be accompanied by a high-level Afghan delegation. 

Abdullah said he will meet with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi, the Chairman of the Senate, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Foreign Minister and other dignitaries.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, Abdullah will also deliver a key-note address at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad.

This will be Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan as head of the HCNR and the first since 2008. 

“The visit will provide an opportunity for wide-ranging exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and people-to-people interaction,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry stated. 

“Pakistan attaches high importance to its fraternal ties with Afghanistan, rooted deep in shared history, faith, culture, values and traditions. 

“Pakistan fully supports all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the Afghan people. The visit of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah will contribute to further strengthening amity, brotherhood and close cooperation between the two countries,” read the statement.

 

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