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US Secretary of State’s press statement on Afghanistan political impasse

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(Last Updated On: March 24, 2020)

The United States Secretary of State expressed in a press statement, 23rd March 2020, that the US deeply regretted that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had informed Secretary Pompeo that they had been unable to agree on an inclusive government.

The statement in its opening note says, “The United States is proud of our partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, and admires what Afghanistan has achieved since 2001. We have forged a deep bond, especially with Afghan security forces, through shared sacrifice in responding to threats to international peace and security since 2001.”

The statement underlines that the national priority the United States attaches to help bring about a political settlement to forty years of the devastating war, Secretary Pompeo came to Kabul Monday with an urgent message and spoke to the nation’s leaders to impress upon them the need to compromise for the sake of the Afghan people.

“The United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed Secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens. The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed U.S.-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country,” the statement writes.

The statement further says, “Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to U.S. national interests, effective immediately, the U.S. government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan. Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021. We will also initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan. We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support the parallel government.”

It is also said in the statement, “The United States remains convinced that a political settlement is the only solution to the conflict. We note that Afghan leaders are acting inconsistently with their commitments under the Joint Declaration, chiefly failing to establish an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations or take practical steps to facilitate prisoner releases by both sides as a confidence-building measure to reach a political settlement and achieve a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. We are proceeding with the conditions-based withdrawal of our forces in accordance with the U.S.-Taliban agreement.”

The statement, however, highlights that the United States is prepared to support these efforts and revisit the reviews initiated today if Afghan leaders choose to form an inclusive government that can provide security and participates in the peace process.

“The United States is not abandoning our partnership with Afghanistan, or our commitment to support the Afghan security forces, but reviewing the scope of our cooperation given the irresponsible actions of Afghan leaders. To illustrate America’s steadfast commitment to the Afghan people, the United States will be providing $15 million in assistance to help combat the spread of the coronavirus in Afghanistan,” the statement concludes.

Source: https://www.state.gov/on-the-political-impasse-in-afghanistan/

COVID-19

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek test positive for Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2020)

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek Bachchan were tested positive for Coronavirus, Bachchan confirmed.

 “I have tested CoviD positive..shifted to Hospital.. hospital informing authorities .. family and staff undergone tests, results awaited,” Amitabh Bachchan said in a tweet on Saturday night.

Both actors have been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, India.

The 77-year-old actor also urged all those who have been in close proximity with him in the last 10 days to get themselves tested for COVID-19

Meanwhile, Abhishek has informed that they have ‘mild symptoms.’

“Earlier today both my father and I tested positive for COVID 19. Both of us having mild symptoms have been admitted to hospital. We have informed all the required authorities and our family and staff are all being tested. I request all to stay calm and not panic. Thank you,” Abhishek wrote on Twitter.

It comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in India has risen to 820,916 with 22,123 deaths and 515,386 recoveries.

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England World Cup winner Jack Charlton dies

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(Last Updated On: July 11, 2020)

Jack Charlton, the 1996 World Cup winner with England and former head of Ireland national football team, has died aged 85 on Friday, BBC reported.

Charlton has been suffering from lymphoma since 2019 as well as dementia.

One of English football’s most popular characters, Jack Charlton was in the team that won the World Cup at Wembley in 1966.

He was the former defender of Leeds United 1950 to 1973. Leeds is the club in which he spent his entire club career.

A family statement read: “Jack died peacefully on Friday, July 10 at the age of 85. He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side. As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.”

“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.

He is survived by wife Pat, whom he married in 1958, and their three children, John, Deborah, and Peter

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Taliban accuses Afghan government intelligence of torturing the group’s prisoners

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(Last Updated On: July 11, 2020)

The Taliban accused the Afghan intelligence of torturing prisoners of the group for admitting to receiving money from Russia to kill American soldiers.

The claim of Russia rewarding Taliban fighters for killing US troops in Afghanistan is now slowly being linked to the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Recently, Khairullah Khairkhah, a member of the Taliban political group in Qatar, said that no one could prove that the Taliban had taken money from Russia to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“They have tortured prisoners to confess about the matter so that they can report to the world, while everything is completely baseless and no one can prove that the Taliban is receiving military assistance from Russia,” said Khairullah Khairkhah, a member of the Taliban political group in Qatar.

But Afghanistan’s national security says that it treats prisoners according to human rights law.

On the other hand, the Russian Foreign Minister once again called Russia’s involvement in this issue baseless and said that a number of US officials are initiating this claim to harm the Trump administration on the verge of the presidential election.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “I can only say that all these allegations are based on speculation and no clear facts have been presented.”

The Taliban have previously denied receiving money from Russia to kill US troops in Afghanistan, but this is the first time the Taliban have acknowledged their prisoners’ confession through torture by Afghan intelligence.

Although the Afghan government has said it will not release some 600 Taliban prisoners on serious charges, sources close to the Taliban say that the group still insists on releasing prisoners on the basis of a pre-arranged list and does not agree with the new list of prisoners.

“They still want the prisoners to be released according to the previous list. No new list has been arranged and has not been handed over to the government,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

Afghanistan’s allied countries also appear to be opposed to the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners accused of involvement in major events, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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