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Acting Afghan PM Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund calls on former officials to return home




Afghanistan’s new Acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund has called on former officials who fled when the Taliban seized power last month to return to the country, saying the group “will guarantee their security and safety”, Al Jazeera reported.

In an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Akhund also said that the caretaker government would guarantee the security of diplomats, embassies and humanitarian relief institutions, stressing that the group wanted to establish positive and strong relations with countries in the region and beyond.

Akhund, a close associate and political adviser to the late Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban and its first supreme leader, said the movement’s leaders faced “a great responsibility and test” towards the Afghan people.

“We have suffered huge losses in money and lives for this historical moment in the history of Afghanistan,” Akhund added.

“The stage of bloodshed, killing and contempt for people in Afghanistan has ended, and we have paid dearly for this.”

Akhund also reiterated the Taliban’s promise of amnesty for anyone who has worked alongside the US and the administration it backed following its 2001 invasion, the report said.

“No one will be able to prove that he was subjected to revenge. And in such tense circumstances, it is easy to do what you want. But the movement is disciplined and controls its gunmen. And, we have not harmed anyone because of his previous actions,” he said.

On Tuesday night, the Taliban announced the formation of Afghanistan’s caretaker government, with Akhund appointed as Acting Prime Minister.

In a statement following the announcement, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, said the urgent task would be to carry out reconstruction and rehabilitation, and the country would seek “strong and healthy relations” with its neighbours and all other countries.

Besides the appointment of Akhund, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi were named acting Deputy Prime Ministers, while Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, was appointed as Acting Defense Minister.

Amir Khan Muttaqi was appointed as Acting Foreign Minister, and Sarajuddin Haqqani, son of the founder of the Haqqani Network terror group, was named Acting Interior Minister.

According to the Taliban, the appointments were not final as these were acting positions, and the remaining posts would be announced later.

International News

Modi, Putin discuss bilateral ties, Afghanistan situation




Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in New Delhi on Monday during the 21st annual India-Russia summit and discussed the emerging security challenges facing the region.

After welcoming Putin, Modi said: “Our meeting today will strengthen our special and privileged strategic partnership. The initiatives that we take today will further increase the scope of our cooperation to new areas.”

Modi, who hosted Putin at the Hyderabad House in the national capital, said the Covid-19 pandemic could not dent the relationship between both the nations and the ties continue to strengthen between the two countries.

He said the relationship between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model of interstate friendship, even when the world has witnessed many fundamental changes and different kinds of geopolitical equations emerged in the last few decades.

Putin said that Russia perceives India as a great power, a friendly nation, and a time-tested friend.

“The relations between our nations are growing and I am looking into the future,” said the Russian President.

Putin also expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan, and termed “fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime” as the key challenges on which both the countries will have to cooperate.

“We continue to cooperate jointly on a global agenda. Our positions are quite similar in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime,” Putin said.

“It is natural that we’re concerned about the developments in Afghanistan,” Putin said in his opening remarks.

Earlier in the day, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and General Sergey Shoigu, respectively. They discussed key bilateral, regional and international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

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International News

India, Russia discuss bilateral, regional, int’l issues




Top officials from India and Russia discussed key bilateral, regional and international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, during their meetings here on Monday.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and General Sergey Shoigu, respectively.

During the bilateral talks with Lavrov, Jaishankar said: “India-Russia partnership is unique. We are very conscious that in a world of rapid geopolitical changes, it has in fact been remarkably steady and strong.”

In his opening remarks at the meeting, he said: “I would like to also take the opportunity to underline that we are very satisfied with our bilateral relations and the state of our cooperation.”

Jaishankar also said that the annual India-Russia summit is a unique event, adding that that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President President Vladimir Putin share a relationship of great trust and confidence.

“The annual summit is taking place after a gap of two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are looking forward to some very significant outcomes from the summit,” the External Affairs Minister added.

During the meeting between Rajnath Singh and General Shoigu, they signed defence agreements.

“Defence cooperation is one of the most important pillars of our partnership. I hope the India-Russia partnership will bring peace to the entire region and provide stability to the region,” Rajnath said.

He also said that the annual India-Russia Summit amidst today’s emerging geopolitical circumstances will once again reconfirm the critical importance of special strategic partnership between the two nations.

“India and Russia relations are time-tested, based on a common interest in multilateralism, global peace, prosperity and mutual understanding and trust.”

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Modi and Putin will begin the summit talks at 5.30 p.m.

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International News

Clash at Afghanistan-Iran border a misunderstanding: Taliban




Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has confirmed a clash between the border forces of Iran and Afghanistan and described the incident as a “misunderstanding.”

According to media reports, a clash broke out between the forces of the two countries at a border point between Iran and Afghanistan’s western Nimroz province.

“The clash in border area of Kang district in Nimroz province between border forces of Afghan and Iran was a misunderstanding at local level and has been solved,” Mujahid tweeted on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“To prevent such incidents in future, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has issued necessary directives,” Mujahid said.

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