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Top sports figures join fundraising for coronavirus relief

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(Last Updated On: March 31, 2020)

Over 115 athletes, coaches, and sports personalities have joined to raise money for a response fund to help individuals fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

Simone Biles, Mark Cuban, Stephen Curry, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Hawk, Rose Lavelle, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Phelps, David Ortiz, and Michael Strahan are some of the athletes who have donated items that will be offered to donors who make a minimum $25 donation.

David Schwab, the executive vice president for the sports agency Octagon, helped come up with the idea of “Athletes for Relief” following the postponement of the NBA and NHL seasons and the cancellation of the NCAA tournament on March 12.

Schwab said, “Right away, so many athletes were asking how they could help? What could they do? This was a way for them to do something together.”

“Every day we all wake up thinking about the people who are sick and the spread of this disease. And this will help those people,” he added.

Donors can visit athletesrelief.org, and a minimum $25 donation under the name of the athlete of their choice will enter them to win everything.

Winners will be selected at the conclusion of the fundraiser on May 1.

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Pakistan president says peace talks are a ‘watershed’ moment

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah met with Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi on Wednesday to discuss progress regarding the current intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar. 

During the meeting, Alvi stated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and said a politically negotiated settlement was the only way forward. 

Alvi also said the start of long-awaited peace talks was a “watershed” in Afghanistan’s history. 

He stressed that the “Afghan leadership must seize this historic opportunity to work together constructively and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement”.

He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to supporting the Afghan peace process. 

Abdullah also met with a delegation of religious scholars in Islamabad on Wednesday – his final day of an official three-day visit. 

Among the scholars, he met was Hanif Jalandhari, the general secretary for the federation of Madrassas, who pledged support for the intra-Afghan talks. 

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Tensions mount as Armenia and Azerbaijan clashes continue

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

NATO allies France and Turkey traded angry accusations on Wednesday as international tensions mounted over clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. 

Clashes broke out on Sunday and since then dozens have been killed and hundreds wounded on both sides in clashes that have now spread beyond the enclave’s territory. 

The skirmishes have raised concerns about stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets, and raised fears that regional powers Russia and Turkey could be drawn in, Reuters reported.

Some of Turkey’s NATO allies are increasingly alarmed by Ankara’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan that is run by ethnic Armenians but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.

Echoing remarks by President Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey would “do what is necessary” when asked whether Ankara would offer military support if Azerbaijan requested it.

Cavusoglu also said French solidarity with Armenia amounted to supporting Armenian occupation in Azerbaijan, Reuters reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is home to many people of Armenian ancestry, hit back during a visit to Latvia. He said France was extremely concerned by “warlike messages” from Turkey.

“And that we won’t accept,” he said.

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Afghan talks team meets with religious council in Doha

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2020)

Afghanistan’s negotiating team on Wednesday met with the Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Ahmad al-Raysuni, in Doha, Qatar, to issues around the peace talks. 

The State Ministry for Peace said in a statement following the meeting that al-Raysuni told the delegation the organization was ready to provide any cooperation needed and that they fully support the peace process. 

“We wish Afghanistan to emerge as a good example among Islamic countries and the world,” said al-Raysuni.

Members of the Afghan negotiating team provided clarification on the current status of talks with the Taliban, which appears to have stalled. 

The team also called on the organization to use its influence to fully support the peace negotiations, read the statement. 

“Their support can bring a ceasefire, an end to the killing of Afghans and an end to bloodshed in Afghanistan,” the ministry stated. 

Ali Muhiuddin, Head of the Secretariat of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, said during the meeting that Afghanistan is the homeland of Imam Abu Hanifa, who was an 8th-century Sunni Muslim theologian and jurist of Persian origin. He became the eponymous founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni jurisprudence.

Hanafi jurisprudence has become a stumbling block in talks between the two sides as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan team wants talks to be based on a broader platform so as to be inclusive. 

The International Union of Muslim Scholars was established in 2004 in Qatar and has branches in 93 Islamic countries. Often, issues of contention within the Islamic world are referred to the organization for advice.

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