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Zarif meets with UN envoys for Yemen and Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 9, 2021)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan Jean Arnault and Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen.

Zarif and Arnault discussed the developments in Afghanistan. During the meeting, Zarif explained the views of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Afghanistan, especially peace and security in the country as well as the peace process led by Afghans.

The foreign minister also underlined Iran’s support for intra-Afghan talks and protection of the achievements of the Afghan people in recent years, especially in the field of fundamental rights, according to a statement put out by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Arnault, for his part, pointed to the importance of Afghanistan’s neighbors and said that he began his regional trip by visiting Iran. The UN official pointed out that the problem of Afghanistan can be solved through collective actions and the focus of his efforts is to find a way to this collective cooperation.

The Tuesday meeting came in continuation of Iran’s diplomatic efforts to push forward the Afghan peace process.

Mohammad-Ebrahim Taherian, the Iranian foreign minister’s special envoy for Afghanistan, held phone talks with Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), on the country’s developments and the visit to Tehran of the UN secretary general’s personal envoy on Afghanistan.

In the Tuesday phone call, Abdullah called for continued support for the country’s peace process.

Taherian, in turn, underlined Iran’s support for the Afghan peace process and efforts made within this framework.

He also stressed the need for more interaction among various groups in the country in order to accelerate the move toward peace.

Zarif also met with the UN envoy for Yemen. At the meeting, Zarif and Griffiths discussed the various dimensions of the Yemeni crisis and ways to achieve peace and stability in the country, according to a separate statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Elaborating on the Islamic Republic’s view on how to end the conflict in Yemen, the Iranian foreign minister pointed to the developments that followed the crisis in the country and stressed the need to lift the siege on the Yemeni people and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to the Yemenis.

Explaining the principled view of Iran that war is not the solution to the Yemeni crisis, Zarif stressed that only through political dialogue and peaceful means the current miserable situation in Yemen can be brought to an end.

Griffiths, for his part, briefed Zarif on the outcome of his talks with the relevant parties on the Yemeni crisis.

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UN chief Guterres appointed for second term

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was appointed for a second-five year-term on Friday by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly.

“I will give it my all to ensure the blossoming of trust between and among nations large and small, to build bridges, and to engage relentlessly in confidence building,” Guterres told the General Assembly after taking the oath of office.

The 15-member Security Council earlier this month recommended the General Assembly re-appoint Guterres. His second term starts on beginning on Jan. 1, 2022.

Guterres succeeded Ban Ki-moon in January 2017, just weeks before Donald Trump became U.S. president. Much of Guterres‘ first term was focused on placating Trump, who questioned the value of the United Nations and multilateralism.

The United States is the largest U.N. financial contributor, responsible for 22% of the regular budget and around a quarter of the peacekeeping budget. President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has started restoring funding cuts made by Trump to U.N. agencies and re-engaged with the world body.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United Nations faced historic challenges, but she hoped that with Guterres at the helm “the next five years will see more peace, more security, and more prosperity than the last.”

“It will require hard work, political will, and accountability from all U.N. member states,” she said in a statement, adding every member states should have “an impassioned commitment” to human rights.

Guterres, 72, was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and head of the U.N. refugee agency from 2005 to 2015. As secretary-general, he has been a cheerleader for climate action, COVID-19 vaccines for all and digital cooperation.

When he took the reins as U.N. chief, the world body was struggling to end wars and deal with humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen. Those conflicts are still unresolved, and Guterres is also now faced with emergencies in Myanmar and the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

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Afghanistan, Kazakhstan sign military cooperation agreement

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

A bilateral agreement on military cooperation between Afghanistan and Kazakhstan was signed on Friday, the Afghan National Security Council (NSC) said.

According to the NSC, Afghan National Security Advisor NSA Hamdullah Mohib and Kazakh Defense Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev signed the agreement during Mohib’s visit to the Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.

The NSC stated that the pact was aimed at paving the way for military-to-military mutual support across various domains.

“The agreement enables joint exercises, military medicine cooperation, equipment modernization, logistical and technical support, battle training, and military intelligence collaboration between the two nations,” Mohib’s office said.

Rahmatullah Andar, spokesman for the NSC stated that “Joint military exercise bilateral meeting about defense policies, medical cooperation, renewing equipment, technical and logistical support, military training and intelligence military cooperation included in the agreement.”

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Another three districts fall to Taliban; gov’t forces retreated

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

The Taliban militants have captured another three districts in the last 24 hours, sources said.

According to the sources, Dahana-i-Ghori district in Baghlan province; Awba district in Herat; and Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province were captured by the Taliban, bringing the total fallen districts to 37 since May 1.

 In Herat, the Awba district fell to the Taliban early Friday morning following days of heavy clashes between the Afghan army and the militants.

Sources said that an army base was under siege by the Taliban for four days and the Afghan forces retreated from the district this morning.

 In Baghlan, the Afghan forces retreated from the Dahana-i-Ghori district on Thursday night.

Amanullah Sanjani, an army commander, was killed in the skirmish.

Meanwhile, the provincial council of Faryab stated that the Shirin Tagab district of the province was fallen to the Taliban following a heavy skirmish with the insurgents.

The Taliban released footage from the district that appears to show that dozens of Afghan forces have surrendered to the group. No credible source, however, confirmed the footage.

According to Ariana News findings, at least 195 members of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have been killed and 105 others wounded in Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Herat, Baghlan, and Sar-e-Pul provinces this week.

The Afghan Army stated that at least 256 Taliban militants were killed and 150 more wounded in air and ground operations across the country. 

This comes as the Taliban capturedthe Shinkai district of Zabul province without any clash fighting after mediation by tribal elders and local officials, sources said. 

The footage shows that militants are escorting the Afghan Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) out to the provincial capital Qatal city.

“Its Zabul DG, officials and ANDSF convoy that was escorted by Taliban security from Shinkai district till Qalat city. This deal was mediated by DG, tribal elders. The mediation was that Shinkai and ANDSF weapons are handover over to the Taliban. Big shame!” Haji AttaJan Haqbayan tweeted.

Haqbayan warned that the Zabul province would also collapse to the hands of the Taliban “if the situation goes this way.”

He also shared a video of an Afghan army officer, who was on duty in ANA Battalion of Shinkai district, who is saying that hundreds of weapons were seized by the Taliban,

“Provincial officials of Zabul must be investigated,” Haqbayan said.

Afghan Army, meanwhile, confirmed that the Taliban overrun district.

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