10 July 2020

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Sunday, July 5, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, on Saturday updated NATO members in Brussels on the situation in Afghanistan and said that the Taliban needs to end the violence to help kick start the intra-Afghan talks.
“I have updated the North Atlantic Council on the situation in Afghanistan leading up to intra-Afghan negotiations.
I was glad to see that once again NATO and alliance affirmed commitments to Afghanistan and to Afghanistan’s national security and defense forces has been reiterated. We also discussed the situation on the ground---Taliban violence has to go down, it is simply unacceptable and it is creating an issue, a problem for getting to the peace talks,” said the NATO envoy Stefano Pontecorvo.
“The more the violence is increased, the more the pains and wounds are increased; this also makes it difficult to achieve peace and to attend the peace negotiating table,” said Shahrzada Akbar, the chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan (AIHRC). Meanwhile, the US embassy Chargé d'Affaires Ross Wilson has said that there was an expectation that the level of violence in Afghanistan would have been reduced after the US-Taliban peace deal was signed on February 29 in Doha, but it didn’t happen like that and violence didn’t stop. “We hope that...when this prisoners release is concluded--up to 5,000 Taliban by the Afghan government, up to a 1,000 by the Taliban---intra-Afghan negotiations can be begin,” said Ross Wilson. Based on the government’s statistics, over the past one month the Taliban initiated 1538 attacks on 32 provinces of the country.
The Office of National Security Council (ONSC) has said that 153 civilians have been killed as a result of the attacks by the Taliban. Nevertheless, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Kabul will host three important meetings on Afghan peace process before the start of the intra-Afghan talks aimed at creating consensus in the regional and international level.
“The first meeting will be convened on Monday with the attendance of delegates from 20 regional and major countries and the meeting will be inaugurated with a presidential speech---the second meeting will be held on Tuesday---it is a trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chinese government under the framework of the Strategic Dialogue,” said Geran Hewad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Under the US-Taliban deal, the Afghan government has to released 5,000 Taliban prisoners before heading to the intra-Afghan talks. So far the Afghan government has released over 3,000 of these prisoners. The Taliban have clarified that they will not attend the peace talks with the Afghan sides before the completion of the prisoners’ swap. As part of goodwill gesture, the Taliban also pledged to release 1,000 Afghan government hostages.

Sunday, July 5, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The Ministry of Public Health reported 348 new positive cases of COVID-19 out of 868 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported seven new COVID-19 deaths and 1,833 recoveries. With this, the total COVID-19 cases in the country reached 32,672, the total deaths reached 826 and the total number of recoveries is 19,168.
Meanwhile, the number of known active cases of COVID-19 in the country is 12,682 and so far, 75,155 samples have been tested, according to data by the Ministry of Public Health. Kabul was on the top of the list with 164 new cases followed by Herat with 28 cases and Balk with 23. Laghman was at the bottom of the list with one positive case in the last 24 hours, based on data by the ministry.
The recoveries were reported in Kabul (1,649), Kunar (107), Balkh (35), Zabul (16), Kandahar (12), Paktia (10) and Nimroz (4). The deaths were reported in Kabul (1), Paktia (4), Nangarhar (1) and Nimroz (1).

Sunday, July 5, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The funeral prayer in absentia for the late Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, the President's special Representative on Economic Development, Trade, and the Reduction of Poverty, who died of COVID-19 was held at the presidential palace and was attended by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
The prayer was also attended by the First Vice President, a number of cabinet ministers, high-ranking government officials and dignitaries.
The President and other participants prayed for the soul of the late Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar and wished the deceased paradise.
The body of the late Mohammad Yousef Ghazanfar was laid to rest yesterday in a formal ceremony after the funeral prayer, attended by Mohammad Shaker Kargar, director general of the Office of the President, Abdul Mateen Bek, Senior Advisor to the President, and a number of high-ranking government officials, governors and civil servants as well as members of his family and friends and was buried in the shrine of Hazrat e Ali in Mazar-e-Sharif city.
Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, President Ghani’s Special Representative for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, died from the coronavirus on Friday. He was under treatment at a hospital in Turkey. President Ghani in a statement sent his condolences over Ghazanfar’s death. Ghazanfar had endorsed President Ghani in 2019 election. Ghazanfar was member of the parliament from Balkh province in 2005 and was a member of the financial and budget committee of the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s parliament.
He ran for parliamentary elections in 2010. He was a shareholder of Ghazanfar Bank, a private bank in the country.
In 2010, he survived an armed attack in which his bodyguard was killed and three others were wounded.

Friday July 3, 2020
GHAZNI CITY (BNA) As many as 15 fighters of Taliban group were killed during conflicts with Afghan security forces in central Ghazni province the other day.
Security officials in Ghazni said, the clashes took place in relevant areas of Ghazni city, in which 15 Taliban militants including four Pakistani and three Uzbekistani citizens were killed and 11 more wounded.
A vehicle, motorcycle and some heavy and light weapons belonged to the terrorists have been demolished during the conflicts.
The clashes occurred after a group of Taliban members stormed on Afghan security forces’ checkpoints in Nochi and Asheqan regions of Ghazni city.

Friday July 3, 2020
Kabul (BNA) More than 23 anti-government militias were killed during clashes with Afghan security forces in Maidan/Wardak, Helmand and Zabul provinces.
Security officials reported that the clashes took place after Taliban fighters attacks on security shells in Jaghatoo district, Maidan/Wardak, Nahr Saraj district, Helmand and Shenki district of Zabul province.
Taliban said nothing about the incidents so far.

Friday July 3, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar held a telephone conversation with Mr. Raşit Meredov, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan yesterday.
According to BNA report, at the onset, Minister Atmar expressed appreciation for the humanitarian assistance provided by Turkmenistan to Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussions then focused on the videoconference call between the Presidents of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and both sides exchanged views on the best means of implementing the decisions made during the call.
The Ministers also discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations, the Afghan peace process - focusing on the role of the region and importance of regional consensus for the process, and exchanged views with regard to preparatory meetings for the implementation of the TAPI Project.

Friday July 3, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Presidents Ashraf Ghani virtually discussed a set of issues pertaining to regional connectivity, trade and transportation as well as peace and regional response to covid-19 with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, yesterday morning.
According to BNA report, having welcomed his two counterparts, President Ghani expressed gratitude to them for their multifaceted cooperation with Afghanistan, particularly on revival and operationalization of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, calling it a transformative program.
President Ghani expressed gratitude to President of Turkmenistan for extending railway to two dry ports of Aqeena and Torghundi, establishing two corona testing laboratories, and his quick decisions to ensure flow of goods through remain uninterrupted.
The president also praised President Aliyev for hosting the Online Non-Aligned Movement Summit in response to Covid-19, adding that it was important to support the stance of the movement vis-à-vis covid-19.
President Ashraf Ghani welcomed President Aliyev’s suggestions on formation of a joint task force at the level of transport and other relevant ministries from the three countries for further improvement of regional connectivity, railway, and fiber optics.
President Ghani suggested if the joint group reports to the three Presidents every quarter to draw attention of the leadership to ensure addressing the issues quickly and to ensure that work at the level of bureaucracies does not stop this initiative.
The president said Afghanistan is ready to extend joint cooperation with public and private sectors of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and invited Azeri and Turkmen firms to join ventures with Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of marble and agriculture, referring to the government’s program to bring 1.4 million hectares of land under cultivation.
President Ghani asked his Azeri and Turkmen counterparts to simplify customs processes for Afghan traders. He termed availability railway significant in trade and transit and said there is a need to build around 4 to 6 thousand of kilometers railways to really integrate the region.
The president said that public and private sector of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan could make investment on mine exploration in Afghanistan, suggesting that their ministers work with the Afghan side in investment portfolio.
The president said the government is creating standard dry ports in eight points in Afghanistan, adding that the US Development Finance Cooperation, European Union and ADB are willing to offer guarantees.
He added, “We have also developed very important trade and energy. In addition to TAPI, our goal is to create an energy corridor from Azerbaijan to Afghanistan and potentially expand it to Pakistan and India.”
“Linking Azerbaijan to this fiber optic corridor will change the face of interactions between South Asia and Central Asia connecting us with Europe and including china so it is very important adjustment to be take,” said the President.
The president said the government is committed to peace and has made sincere efforts to bring sustainable peace to the country, underlining that the Afghan Foreign Ministry is going to have a meeting with 18 neighbor countries, near and far, as part of a regional approach to receive support of the countries in the region.
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan expressed his gratitude over holding the trilateral virtual meeting, terming it beneficent for discussing cooperation and its future development.
He added that Azerbaijan has participated in NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan since 2002 and contributed to peace and stability in Afghanistan by providing troops, multi-model transit, trading and financial assistance.
President of Azerbaijan said with the Lapis Lazuli Route connected to Baku, the shipment of cargo from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan via Turkmenistan and onward in western direction has become possible. He added that the coronavirus disease being the most acute problem of present spread all over the world and entail tragic consequences, and stressed that solidarity and cooperation between the countries on the bilateral level, and the international organizations are important during the pandemic.
Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan has taken additional measures to ensure transportation of goods, international shipping through the east-west transportation corridor has remain uninterrupted.
The Azeri President suggested convening of a working level meeting between the transportation bodies over countries to evaluate the outcome of this particular meeting and our future steps.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan considered the meeting a great opportunity to exchange views on strategically important aspects of cooperation, particularly partnership in transportation and communication areas.
He underscored that the three countries had active cooperation in international efforts in countering the corona disease.
President Berdimuhamedov said upon spread of the virus, the three countries tried to create condition for continuation of transit and transport activities across the border amidst the spread of the pandemic, expressing gratitude to Afghanistan and Azerbaijan for supporting Turkmenistan’s initiative to deal with the corona virus and mitigate the social-economic consequences.
The Turkmen President said, “We have created new mechanisms corresponding to the current situation which have enabled us and our neighbors to ensure the safe movement of vehicles and freights among countries and the region. We have also taken measures to control disease spread along borders.”
He said Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are united by common history, culture and tradition and continue to solidify their relations, calling peace, security and mutual understanding valuable between the three states and their peoples.
President of Turkmenistan stressed on implementation of a common tariff policy, creation of an integrated logistics center, availability of modern high-tech transport infrastructure, simplification of customs processes, and necessity to prepare the digital address of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan route as an effort to ensure efficiency of freight transportation.
President Ghani once again expressed gratitude to his counterparts for attending the online trilateral summit and said our common economic future are tied together and its requires comprehensive cooperation.
The president welcomed their suggestions including formation of a joint task forces, creation of common tariff policy, streamlining customs processes, establishment of joining logistics center, availability of high-tech transport infrastructure and other suggestions and described them as advantageous factors for improvement of regional connectivity, trade, transit and efficiency of freight transportation.
President Ghani said, “Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are emerging as regional hubs.” He added that Baku and Tukmenbashi and facilities around the Caspian have become the port of choice for Afghanistan.
The president said “Railroad has proven its value during the time of corona, because while transport by trucks is important but rail has been our lifeline.”
President Ghani stressed alignment in terms of customs processes between the three countries and said Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan’s leadership in terms of this and exchange of information thought a secured system is crucial to enable us move forward.
“The two ports of Aqeena and Torghundi are ready and we are ready to move forward through joint cooperation with both public and private sectors of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan,” added the president. And also public sector.
The president at the end proposed organizing online meeting of the heads of transport and agencies in our countries in July this year in order to work in detail on formation of the joint task force.

Friday July 3, 2020
ZARANJ CITY (BNA) Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) by discovering and confiscating 12 round of different type of mines succeeded to prevent several deadly incidents in Nimroz province.
Ibrahim Amini in-charge of publication in police chief of Nimroz told BNA correspondent, the mines have been discovered and neutralized by ANDSF along Khashroud district road.
Taliban fighters are responsible of the mine plantings, Amini added.

Thursday July 2, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The construction work of three school buildings has been complemented in Kandahar, Zabul and Nooristan provinces.
Faridoon Azhand spokesman for ministry of rural rehabilitation and development told BNA correspondent, a primary school building has built in Spain Boldak district of Kandahar province, another primary school building has been completed in Zabul province and also the construction work of a primary school building has been completed in Nooristan province.
By construction of the school buildings the problems of more than 800 students (girls & boys) have settled regarding classrooms’ shortages, Azhand added.

Thursday July 2, 2020
KANDAHAR CITY (BNA) Foodstuffs have been distributed to 650 needy and poor families in southern Kandahar province the other day.
Press office of Kandahar’s governor reported BNA, the foodstuffs have been provided by internal and external charity organizations and distributed the families; those affected due to COVID-19 outbreak.
The foodstuffs included flour, cooking ghee, rice, pea and salt that distributed to needy families in districts and center of the province.

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