Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Unfortunate that Indian media tried to politicise Kartarpur border opening: PM Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the federal cabinet on Thursday, termed it unfortunate that Indian media have Pakistan’s positive gesture of opening the ,Kartarpur border a “political colour”.,

“Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur [border opening] a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage [...] This is not true. We did it because it is part of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” the prime minister said

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” he added.

“The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort [to open the Kartarpur border]. It is to them what Madinah is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” Prime Minister Khan said.

Foreign policy matters

In reference to Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad’s meeting with the prime minister yesterday, the cabinet was told that “Pakistan’s role in the region is now being recognised”.

“Pakistan has always played an active role to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and it is a matter of great satisfaction that the United States has recognised Islamabad’s contribution to this effect,” the prime minister was reported as saying.

Touching upon Pakistan’s offer to act as mediator in the Yemen conflict, Prime Minister Khan said, “We talked to Saudi Arabia and Iran on the matter, Iran’s foreign minister gave us the go-ahead to try and see what could be done. We will try our best in this regard as well.”

Deflecting criticism

The prime minister also came to his ministers’ defence, saying that: “The finance ministry, planning and commerce ministries should be lauded for the efforts they have made under great pressure.”

The prime minister added that despite difficulties and challenges, various multinational companies have pledged to invest in Pakistan.

“Let me name a few of the companies that are planning to invest here. Suzuki’s chairman promised an investment worth $450 million, The Coca-Cola Company will invest $500m and PepsiCo will invest $400m,” the prime minister said.

“Exxon — which is the largest gas drilling company in the world — has come back to Pakistan after 27 years. They are immediately investing $200m in the country and they are saying that by next summer, they expect to know exactly how many off-shore gas reserves we have,” he added.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

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Suicide car bombing kills 3 in Iran’s Chabahar port city

A suicide car bomber attacked a police headquarters in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar on Thursday, killing at least three people and wounding several others, state TV reported.

State television broke into its regular broadcast to report the attack, as such assaults are rare in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Rahmdel Bameri, a provincial official, told state TV that a suicide attacker driving a vehicle loaded with explosives drove up to the police headquarters. He said police officers blocked the vehicle and started firing at the driver, who then detonated his explosives.

State authorities did not identify who was behind the attack. No militant group immediately took responsibility for the attack.

State TV also aired footage of smoke rising over the city.

Chabahar, near Iran’s border with Pakistan on the Sea of Oman, is home to a new port recently built and is an economic free zone for the country.

The attack comes as Iran’s economy reels in the wake of the United States re-imposing sanctions lifted by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. While Iran still complies with the accord, US President Donald Trump withdrew America over the deal in part due to Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, its “malign behavior” in the Mideast and its support of militant groups like Hezbollah.

While rare, Iran has been targeted in recent years by militant attacks. In September, gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, killing and wounding dozens.

Arab separatists and the militant Islamic State (IS) group both claimed the assault. Another coordinated June 7, 2017 IS group assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.

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Only PM can rein in ‘disastrous’ population growth, says CJP at symposium

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday termed unbridled population growth as the “most disastrous issue” for Pakistan, and regretted that the “menace” was not given any attention in the past 60 years.

He made the remarks while addressing a symposium in the capital on the alarming population growth in Pakistan.

“Our water reserves and resources are depleting, but our mouths [to feed] are increasing,” he said while addressing the event that was attended by several high-profile personalities, including judges and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar addresses the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

CJP Nisar called on the prime minister to probe why no dam had been built in Pakistan in the past 40 years and why the country was facing such an “alarming” situation.

“Today we have no water management in Pakistan. Water is life, without water we cannot conceive a life,” he said.

The top judge said that the apex court had created a task force which presented its recommendations after holding a few sessions but added that “that was the extent of their power”.

“The judiciary does not have any mechanism to act on these recommendations,” he said. “The only person who can get any implementation done is the prime minister,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court has played its part in amplifying and understanding human rights and now it was the Executive’s job to take them forward.

Justice Nisar said the burden on the judicial system did not go back to just the past five to seven years but it was centuries old.

“The tools have to be given to us by the parliament,” he said, regretting that so much time had passed but laws had not been updated.

“Perhaps the time has come to stop boycotting the parliament and sit in the parliament and [start doing] our actual duty,” he said.

CJP Nisar said models used by other countries to restrain their population growth were before the country and that they just needed to be implemented and awareness needed to be created.

“I am hopeful that with good intentions, we will reach our dream in a few years,” the top judge said.

Problems exist due to ‘short-term thinking’: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan began his address by thanking the top judge for inviting him to the event. “I am glad I am not being presented in courtroom number one,” he joked.

Speaking at the day-long symposium, Khan expressed “the nation’s resolve to address the population growth in the country”, reported ,Radio Pakistan,.

Addressing CJP Nisar, the premier said that the steps that the top judge had taken should have been taken by democratic governments instead.

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

PM Imran Khan speaks at the symposium. — DawnNewsTV

“The democratic governments unfortunately only used to think about five years,” he said, adding that nothing could be accomplished in that time span for major issues.

“We are in these problems because of a short-term thinking,” Prime Minister Khan regretted.

The premier recalled the family planning campaigns shown on television in the 1960s, saying those were very “effective”.

He said that people were under the impression that (formerly) East Pakistan had been a burden on the country’s population, but today Bangladesh had gotten ahead of Pakistan because of their long-term thinking.

“As the population continues to grow, our food security will be affected,” he cautioned.

Prime Minister Khan thanked the CJP for raising the matter of population growth which he called a very “serious issue”.

He said the government has formed task forces to address population growth, adding that he was glad that all provincial chief ministers were on board for the initiative.

Khan noted that the delivery system of contraceptives in the country was an issue but what was actually needed was an ambition to resolve the problem.

“There is a big role for the ulema,” he said, citing examples of Iran and Bangladesh where population control campaigns were done from mosques. The premier said Pakistan too needed to involve its mosques in the campaign.

‘Singularity of narrative’

The event is being attended by provincial chief ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, ministers and other officials including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.

Former senator Javed Jabbar, while addressing the symposium, acknowledged former president Ayub Khan’s contribution, noting that while he may not have been a democratically elected leader, credit should be given to him for highlighting family planning.

“Why have we forgotten the narrative [in the last fifty years]?” he asked. “There needs to be a singularity of narrative.”

Renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil observed that the problem in Pakistan was “illiteracy” and stressed the importance of education to bring population growth under control.

He noted that while the symposium was being held in Islamabad, the problem is more prevalent in rural areas.

Vice-president of the Population Council, John Bongaarts, the first speaker of the event, highlighted the levels of contraceptives used in Pakistan as compared to other countries in the region such as Bangladesh and India.

Furthermore, he presented the benefits of family planning programmes, adding that this was an extremely important event for Pakistan.

Co-chair of the World Health Organisation High-Level Independent Commission on Non-communicable diseases, Dr Sania Nishtar, while addressing the symposium, said “today is a landmark day” and remarked that the “stellar show of strength” of various stakeholders was “critical” to the cause.

A documentary on population dynamics was presented at the event.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

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Qatar to quit Opec in January 2019: energy minister

Qatar is to leave Opec next month in order for the Gulf state to focus on gas production, the country’s new Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi announced in a surprise move on Monday.

Qatar has been a member of Opec since 1961, and the decision to pull out comes at a turbulent time in Gulf politics, with ,Doha under a boycott by former neighbouring allies, including Saudi Arabia for 18 months.

“Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from Opec effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to Opec this morning,” Kaabi said at a Doha press conference.

Kaabi, who also heads state-owned Qatar Petroleum, denied the move was linked to the feud with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The decision was “technical and strategic” and had “nothing to do with the blockade”, he said.

Qatar would continue to produce oil and seek deals in countries including Latin America’s top oil producer Brazil, said Kaabi.

But gas production would remain the top priority for Qatar, which is the world’s the biggest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG).

“We don’t have great potential (in oil), we are very realistic,” said Kaabi, who described himself as “Mr Gas” during the conference. “Our potential is gas.

“I think it’s inefficient to focus on something that’s not your core business and something that’s not going to benefit you long-term.”

In September, Qatar announced it planned to boost gas production to 110 million tonnes per year by 2024.

Qatar’s oil production is around 600,000 barrels per day and it is the world’s 17th largest producer of crude oil, according to specialist website, world data.info.

It also only holds around two percent of the world’s global oil reserves, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Kaabi said Opec had been informed of the decision on Monday ahead of the announcement and that he would still attend the organisation’s Vienna meeting later this week, his “first and last” as energy minister.

That meeting is expected to set a policy for 2019 and despite Qatar’s announcement, oil prices soared on Monday after Russia and Saudi Arabia renewed a pact to cap output.

Opec is dominated by oil-rich Saudi, which along with its allies has had no ties with Qatar since June 2017.

Relations between Riyadh and Doha are at an all-time low as a result of the crisis, which has seen Saudi-led countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran.

Qatar refutes the allegations and claims rivals want to overthrow its government.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - December 3, 2018 at 6:25 pm

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Govt considering renegotiating LNG deal with Qatar: minister

ISLAMABAD: Building on its continuous criticism of liquefied natural gas import and processing terminals, the government on Friday said it was considering renegotiating the 15-year ,LNG import contract with Qatar.,

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has been criticising the contracts signed by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for ,import of LNG from Qatar, at a price equivalent to 13.39 per cent of international benchmark crude oil price and two terminals set up by the private sector for re-gasifying imported LNG.

“The price of LNG imported from Qatar is the most expensive,” said Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan at a news conference, adding that even the prices under proposed gas pipelines from Turkmenistan and Iran were cheaper.

Ruling PTI criticises contracts signed by PML-N government for importing LNG and setting up processing terminals

He said that his objection to the LNG agreement with Qatar was that why it was signed for 15 years when the mandate was only for five years. On top of that, he added, it also contained a clause putting a bar on non-disclosure of the agreement even three years after the expiry of the 15-year term.

Mr Khan said the government was looking into the agreement from both aspects [being expensive and non-disclosure]. Responding to a question, he said he would not speak about its specific terms because the issue could land in the International Court of Arbitration (ICA). “I am bound under the contract to keep its specifics secret,” otherwise they would involve the ICA, he said, adding that “an in-camera briefing will be given to Prime Minister Imran Khan in a few days” for a decision.

The minister said the petroleum division also had some reservations over the agreements on terminals and some of them were in courts and, therefore, he would opt not to prejudice the issue.

He said the Supreme Court, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investi­gation Agency (FIA) were looking into the contracts relating to import of LNG from Qatar and two LNG terminals in Karachi and those found responsible for signing the expensive deals would be held accountable.

The petroleum minister had last month announced sending three LNG contracts to NAB for investigation and renegotiating the contract with terminal operations to bring down processing charges.

The terminal operators said the agreement could not be reopened. NAB had been probing the LNG deals even when the PML-N was in power and comprehensively grilled various officials involved but never took it to the next level of filing a reference in a court.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has always defended the LNG import and processing terminal contracts as transparent and in best national interest and has been challenging the PTI ministers for an open debate.

The petroleum minister also announced at the news conference that all politically motivated board of directors of oil and gas companies would be reconstituted in the next 100 days to ensure transparency in the appointment of heads of these companies, adding that the government had already reconstituted boards of directors of six companies. He said the boards would also elect their own professional chairmen while chief executive officers would be appointed after clearance from NAB and the FIA.

Mr Khan claimed that the previous government had not auctioned a single block for oil and gas exploration during its five-year tenure, whereas the PTI government selected 40 blocks and auctioned 10 of them to exploration companies.

He said the federal government had written letters to the provinces, asking them to give the names of their representatives for boards of directors of oil and gas companies.

The minister said ExxonMobil would start offshore drilling 230 kilometres from Karachi in January next year for which a rig was on its way. OGDCL, PPL, ENI and ExxonMobil have 25pc shares each in this offshore block.

He said that work on two refineries in Balochistan was at an advanced stage. Parco was setting up a refinery and another one would be established by the UAE in Balochistan for which 2,000 acres of land had been allocated, he said, adding that the UAE crown price would soon visit Pakistan and sign an agreement in this regard.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2018

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MBS, Modi meet in Argentina as India looks to find new avenues for oil import

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed the kingdom’s willingness to provide for all of India’s oil and petroleum product needs during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Buenos Aires, ,Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, on Friday.

According to SPA, the two leaders met at the residence of the Saudi crown prince — known by his initials MBS — in the Argentine capital and discussed bilateral cooperation between the two friendly countries in the various fields. Both the leaders are in Buenos Aires to attend the Group of 20 (G-20) summit which kicks off today (Friday).

The meeting between the two leaders comes a few months after it was announced that — following US’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran — ,India will cut its oil imports from Tehran to zero,.

With limited exceptions, the ,US government’s reimposed sanctions, against Iran will hit countries that do not stop importing Iranian oil and foreign firms that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including its central bank, a number of private financial institutions, and state-run port and shipping firms, as well as hundreds of individual Iranian officials.

In September, the ,US government said that it is not going to provide a waiver to any country, from curbs on commercial deals with Iran and the restriction applies to India as well.

The following month ,it was announced that India will be joining other Asian buyers, such as South Korea and Japan that have already halted imports from the Persian Gulf state before American restrictions take effect in early November.

In the Buenos Aires meeting, Saudi Aramco’s investment in refineries in India — especially the large refinery on the western coast of India and in the field of crude oil storage — came under discussion, reported SPA.

Prince Mohammed accepted Modi’s invitation to join International Solar Alliance during the meeting. The two leaders discussed investment in solar energy through the Soft Bank Vision Fund and through the Saudi companies which will build solar energy projects.

They also discussed the investment opportunities in the infrastructure through the Public Investment Fund and replacing Saudi Arabia’s agricultural imports from other countries with Indian agricultural products.

According to SPA, the leaders discussed strategies to localise the military industry and cooperation in the field of military manufacturing in both countries and reviewed the available opportunities to export the Saudi non-oil products to India, and ways to develop bilateral trade.

MBS at G-20 Summit

The summit is the Saudi prince’s first significant appearance overseas since the ,killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the kingdom’s Istanbul Consulate. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia over the incident, is also in attendance.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who flew into Buenos Aires on Wednesday as one of the earliest arrivers, called for international involvement and “complete clarity” in investigations into the killing, and said European leaders should discuss it at a meeting Friday.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the summit’s host, said the matter of the killing would be “on the table” during bilateral and possibly broader meetings.

Saudia Arabia has denied that the crown prince played a role in Khashoggi’s gruesome slaying. Human Rights Watch, however, has accused him of responsibility and also of war crimes in Yemen, and on Wednesday, Argentine legal authorities took initial action to consider a request to prosecute him for alleged crimes against humanity — a move apparently aimed at embarrassing him as he attends the summit.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 30, 2018 at 1:25 pm

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Pakistan will never again fight ‘imposed wars’ on its territory: PM Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday told tribal elders in Waziristan that Pakistan has “fought an imposed war inside our country,” and that “we shall not fight any such war again inside Pakistan”.

The premier had travelled to Miranshah earlier in the day accompanied by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. This was his first visit to the newly-merged tribal districts of North Waziristan.

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“No other country or armed forces have done what Pakistan and its military have done in the war against terrorism,” PM Khan was quoted as saying by Inter-Services Public Relations.

Furthermore, the premier reportedly said that Pakistan will play its “role in the Afghan peace process along with other stakeholders as peace in Afghanistan is critical for achieving enduring peace in Pakistan”.

The prime minister also lauded the people of erstwhile Fata for “courageously facing challenging and difficult times of terrorism”, the ISPR said.

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Upon his arrival to Miranshah earlier in the day, the prime minister had been briefed on the security situation, ongoing stability operations, socio-economic projects and rehabilitation of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Officials had earlier said the premier is expected to announced a large package for the region and will also announce the establishment of a major hospital and sports complex in Miranshah.

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Seven districts of the erstwhile Fata were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the wake of the 25th Constitutional amendment. This is the head of government’s first visit to the region after its merger with the province.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 26, 2018 at 9:25 pm

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PM Khan makes maiden visit to newly merged North Waziristan tribal districts

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Miranshah on Monday, marking the start of his maiden visit of newly merged tribal districts from North Waziristan.

The premier is accompanied by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that the PM had been briefed on the “security situation, ongoing stability operations, socio-economic projects and rehab of TDPs [Temporarily Dislocated Persons].”

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The DG ISPR added that the premier will later visit the Ghulam Khan trade terminal and will also address a jirga of local elders in Miranshah.

PM Khan is ,kicking off his maiden visit, of the newly merged tribal districts in North Waziristan today. Officials say the PM is expected to announced a large package for the districts and will also announce the establishment of a major hospital and sports complex in Miranshah.

Seven districts of the erstwhile Fata were merged with KP in the wake of the 25th Constitutional amendment. This is the head of the government’s first visit to the region after its merger with the province.

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Foreign investors to be allotted land on lease basis in Balochistan

QUETTA: Announcing the land lease policy of the Balochistan government for foreign investors after a two-day cabinet meeting, Balochistan Information Minister Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi said that the provincial government had decided to allot land to foreign investors in the province on the basis of lease for a certain period instead of granting them the ownership rights.

The duration of the lease would be decided later by the government.

Speaking at a press conference here on Saturday, the minister said that the cabinet noted that existing land lease policy did not mention anything about land lease to foreign investors and foreign companies and it was, therefore, decided that from now onward the land allotment to foreign investors and companies would be made on the basis of lease.

“The ownership rights of the leased land to foreign investors and companies will remain with citizens of Pakistan and competent authority,” Mr Buledi said, adding that cabinet had also decided to form an allotment committee for the purpose.

Ownership rights of the property will remain with citizens of Pakistan and competent authority

The minister said that the cabinet had also decided to start new recruitments against vacant posts in different government departments and directed all departments concerned to launch the process of filling vacant posts.

The cabinet asked the unemployed educated youth to apply against vacant posts in different government departments with confidence as all appointments would be made against all posts purely on the basis of merit.

He said that the cabinet had also approved some important amendments to the Balochistan Public Service Commission regulation under which the number of members of the commission would be enhanced up to 12, including the chairman.

Two women will also be made members of the commission.

“Fifty per cent members of the commission will be retired grade 20 and above administrative secretaries and retired judges while the rest will be from private and government sectors and retired educationists,” Mr Buledi said.

He said that for selection of the chairman and members of the commission, a board, headed by chief secretary, would be set up and that the board would send three names for the post of each member to the chief minister who would send the names to the governor with his recommendation for the appointment.

He said the government had decided to set up a bank of the province named Balochistan Bank and this bank would create about 1500 new jobs for the youth of the province besides generating a revenue of Rs1.5 billion.

Provincial ministers Mir Saleem Ahmed Khosa, Mir Arif Jan Muhammad Hasni and Sardar Abdul Rehman Khatiran were present at the press conference.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018

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Iran wants Muslims to unite against US

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged Muslims worldwide on Saturday to unite against the United States and assured Saudis they were “brothers” who had nothing to fear from Tehran.

US President Donald Trump abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran in May and has since re-imposed crippling unilateral sanctions.

“What the United States wants of [the Middle East] today is enslavement,” Rouhani said.

Muslim governments should unite against the United States and “the region’s cancerous tumour”, Israel, he said.

President Rouhani urges Saudi Arabia to end dependence on US aid

“Submitting to the West headed by America would be treason against our religion… and against the future generations of this region,” the Iranian president told an international conference on Islamic unity in Tehran, in a speech broadcast live on state television.

“We have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet [PBUH], our Holy Quran and our Islam,” Rouhani said.

He urged Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia to end its dependence on “insulting” US military aid. “We are ready to defend the Saudi people’s interests against terrorism and superpowers with all our might,” he said.

“We do not ask $450 billion for it and will not insult you.”

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in January 2016 after protesters stormed its diplomatic missions in Iran following its execution of a prominent Shia cleric.

It accuses Tehran of fomenting unrest among Shia people in the Gulf Arab states and the two governments have supported opposing sides in devastating civil wars in Syria and Yemen.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 25, 2018 at 1:25 pm

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Saudi royal says crown prince is here to stay

A prominent Saudi royal on Saturday said that whether or not heads of state gathered in Argentina next week for the Group of 20 (G20) summit warmly engage with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he is someone “that they have to deal with”.

Prince Turki al-Faisal told The Associated Press that the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month is “an unacceptable incident that tars and mars the long record of Saudi Arabia’s own standing in the world”.

“We will have to bear that. It’s not something that should not be faced. And we do face it,” he said.

Intelligence officials and analysts say the ,operation to kill Khashoggi,, who wrote critically of the crown prince for The Washington Post, could not have happened without Prince Mohammed’s knowledge.

The kingdom, which has offered several conflicting accounts of the killing, denies the crown prince had any involvement.

The crown prince embarked late on Thursday on his first foreign tour since the October 2 killing with a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

He’s expected to visit other Middle East countries before going to Buenos Aires on Nov 30 for the start of the two-day G20 summit, where he’ll come face to face with world leaders.

United States President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on the kingdom, are among those expected to attend.

“Whether the leaders in that summit will warmly engage with the crown prince or not, I think all of them recognise that the kingdom as a country and King Salman and the crown prince are people that they have to deal with,” the prince said.

He said Saudi Arabia will continue to play a role on the world stage and that Trump’s statement of support for Saudi Arabia recognises the importance of the kingdom.

Trump insists there’s not enough evidence to blame the crown prince for Khashoggi’s killing, despite a US intelligence report’s assessment to the contrary.

,Read more: US to give Saudis a pass even if Crown Prince behind murder,

Trump says the kingdom is an important ally that has helped to lower oil prices.

“I thought President Trump was expressing what he felt was in the interest of the United States. He emphasised the strategic relationship between the two countries in the same statement and how Saudi Arabia has been helpful in many instances not just oil,” said Prince Turki.

The prince also firmly dismissed the ,US intelligence assessments, that the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’s killing, saying these same intelligence bodies had a “remarkably flawed assessment” in 2003 in the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq.

“So we don’t take it as being, as I said, divine revelation,” he said of the US intelligence reports.

Prince Turki, who led Saudi intelligence for more than two decades and served as ambassador to the US and Britain, had links with Khashoggi before the writer became an outspoken government critic.

Khashoggi was reportedly an adviser to Prince Turki at one point and supported by the royal during his brief stints as editor-in-chief of Saudi newspaper al-Watan.

The prince’s father is the late King Faisal and his brother is Prince Khalid al-Faisal, the governor of Makkah.

Prince Turki said that reports of discontent within the ruling Al Saud family over the crown prince’s rapid rise to power do not reflect the “extraordinary support” that King Salman and his son enjoy.

“I see no signs of such disquiet or uncertainty vis-a-vis the king and the crown prince,” he said.

The prince spoke on Saturday during a policy briefing by the Beirut Institute Summit.

The summit is the brainchild of Arab writer and columnist Raghida Dergham.

The prince is a board member and supporter of the summit, which draws upon recommendations of its participants to put forth policy ideas for the Middle East.

Among its recommendations is support for the Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi initiative dating back to the early 2000′s that calls for east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in exchange for Arab state recognition of Israel and normalized relations.

In the absence of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, Gulf Arab states have moved ahead with their own outreach to Israel .

The driving force appears to be shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a ,surprise visit last month,.

Prince Turki, who himself appeared on a panel last year alongside a former chief for Israel’s Mossad spy agency, said such appearances do not represent a normalizing of relations with Israel.

“I don’t think it’s so much a rapprochement as, how can I put it, a shot by shot deal that rises as happened with the effort by the Sultan of Oman to push for a restart of the negotiations,” he said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - November 24, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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US to give Saudis a pass even if Crown Prince behind murder

President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to stick by ally Saudi Arabia even while admitting that de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been behind the brutal murder of a dissident journalist.

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a statement.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner.”

The ,gruesome murder of Khashoggi,, who vanished after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, has hugely embarrassed Washington.

The killing torpedoed a PR campaign led by the crown prince to show that the conservative Islamic state has embarked on a new reformist path.

It also threw into question the White House strategy to make MBS, as the royal is widely known, its main partner in the tinderbox region.

Trump has for weeks resisted accepting mounting evidence of Saudi government involvement in the Khashoggi killing — and accusations that MBS ordered the hit.

However, with The New York Times reporting that the ,Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has definitively concluded, that Prince Mohammed was involved, the focus turned to whether Trump would punish his Saudi partner or find a way to let it slide.

In his statement, released by the White House press office, Trump took the latter option, saying that the US-Saudi relationship was more important than the possible involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed in the crime.

‘Steadfast partner’

He noted that Saudi King Salman and the crown prince “vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr Khashoggi”.

Saudi Arabia, he said, provides crucial help in the US struggle to contain Iranian ambitions, as well as having committed to $450 billion in US weapons contracts and other investments.

In addition, the Saudis have helped in keeping oil prices low, Trump said.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” the president added.

Trump acknowledged a push in Congress for the United States to sanction MBS and take other action against the Saudi leadership.

“I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America,” he said.

The Washington Post responded that Trump had placed “personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual”.

“Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so,” the Post’s publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said in a statement.

Trump’s statement caps a steady campaign to delay judgement on the Saudis over the fate of Khashoggi, a US resident who was sometimes critical of MBS and wrote for the Post.

Long after Turkish sources and others had provided strong evidence that Khashoggi was murdered in the Istanbul consulate, the White House insisted that it was too early to tell.

After Saudi Arabia accepted responsibility and said that 21 people were in custody, with death penalties sought against five men, attention turned to whether MBS would be found culpable.

,Read more: Khashoggi murder: What we know about the Saudi suspects,

Again, Washington slow-pedaled, but the CIA report forced Trump into making a definitive statement.

‘Nothing definitive’

While Trump told journalists that the CIA had found “nothing definitive,” US media reports described the intelligence agency’s analysis as concluding with “high confidence” that the crown prince ordered the murder.

Critics of the no-questions-asked relationship immediately attacked Trump.

“Since Mr Trump excels in dishonesty, it is now up to members of Congress to obtain and declassify the CIA findings on Jamal Khashoggi’s death,” tweeted John Brennan, a former CIA director and fierce Trump critic.

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“No one in Saudi Arabia-most especially the Crown Prince-should escape accountability for such a heinous act.”

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the White House maneuver demonstrated “President Trump’s habit of siding with murderous foreign dictators over American intelligence professionals,” calling the approach a “stain on our democracy”.

There was a chorus of disapproval from senior figures on his own side too, with Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate’s powerful Committee on Foreign Relations accusing the White House of moonlighting “as a public relations firm” for the crown prince.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Trump, indicating that Washington’s relationship with the Saudis is bigger than the horrific murder.

“It’s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular,” he told journalists.

“It is the president’s obligation, indeed the state department’s duty as well, to ensure that we adopt policies that further America’s national security. So as the president said today, the United States will continue to have a relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They’re an important partner of ours.”

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting Pompeo that his country was pushing for “whoever gave the instruction” for Khashoggi’s murder to be brought to justice.

“We don’t see this issue as a bilateral issue — it is a criminal and judicial case and it has to be dealt like that,” he added.

“There are still questions that are unanswered and we’re trying to find the answers.”

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Pakistan to spearhead international campaign against defamation of religions: PM Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, at the opening of the two-day international Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conference at Islamabad’s Jinnah Convention Centre, said that Pakistan would spearhead an international campaign against the defamation of religions.

The topic of the conference is “finality of Prophethood and responsibilities of Muslims in light of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)”.

It is the 43rd conference aimed at promoting religious harmony, tolerance, brotherhood and equality, respect for humanity, non-violence, unity, reconciliation and culture of dialogue, ,according to Radio Pakistan,.

PM Khan congratulated the conference organisers and stressed the need to study the life of the Prophet “who changed the world”.

“Those people who are unable to understand the philosophy of the life of the Prophet have now become guardians of religion,” he claimed.

“You can only follow the path of blessed people when you love the Prophet,” he said, adding that the Higher Education Commission had been asked to establish chairs for research on the Prophet’s life in three universities.

The prime minister said he had seen Hindus, Sikhs, and people from all religions visit the shrines of great personalities like Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Baba Farid. “They visit their mausoleums because they were great men,” he said.

“We should examine what it was that the Prophet did, that later led to the defeats of super powers at the hands of Muslims,” he said.

Referring to a blasphemous cartoon contest which was announced by a Dutch MP, the PM said that the Dutch government had cancelled the contest, and the matter had also been taken up by Pakistan on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation platform.

Later, he said, the European Union also admitted that freedom of expression could be not be used as a pretext for blasphemy.

“Pakistan will spearhead a campaign for an international declaration against the defamation of religions. I have appointed Ahmer Bilal Sufi, a law expert, to reach out to various countries and convince them to sign the declaration,” he said.

PM talks about personal spiritual journey

The premier also recalled his personal spiritual journey, saying he underwent a great change after he met his spiritual mentor, Mian Bashir, who was a Sufi.

“With his wisdom and knowledge, he was able to guide me to the path of religion,” the PM said.

Read more: ,Imran Khan ? from flamboyant cricketer to prime minister,

“I used to be a Muslim just in name,” he said. “If my father urged me, I would go for Friday prayers with him. I would offer my Eid prayers,” he said. “I did not have any extraordinary knowledge about Islam.”

“Mian Bashir slowly eliminated the hurdles standing in the way of my faith. And a time comes when Allah lifts a veil and you realise ‘This is God’.”

“That instance ? when you understand the existence of Allah, and the time that comes when you believe ? it is a huge blessing of Allah when He guides you to the right path,” PM Khan said.

“Then your life begins changing. [...] There is a misconception that a person undergoes an immediate transformation when he embraces faith. No, it is just the starting point of a continuous struggle,” he said.

The PM said Allah asks us to follow the path of the Prophet, which is why we need to read about and understand his life.

“That was when my journey started. I started reading about his life, I started changing, my life’s path started changing,” he continued.

“I would not have built a cancer hospital or entered politics if Allah had not changed by path. There are two paths ? when one’s life is oriented around personal satisfaction, and the other when one realises he has a responsibility towards his fellow man.”

He added that the Prophet may not have made great financial resources, but Allah instilled the quality of mercy in him.

The PM said that one begins fulfilling his obligations as a human being when he believes he will be answerable on the Last Day.

Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conference kicks off

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri alongside PM Khan at Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad. ? DawnNewsTV

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri alongside PM Khan at Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad. ? DawnNewsTV

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, in his opening address to attendees of the event, paid tribute to the services of the Prophet for humanity and shed light on various aspects of his personality.

He talked about how Prophet Muhammad treated non-Muslims and even his foes, saying he had pardoned even his worst enemies.

Scholars from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, Morocco, and the United Kingdom are participating in the event.

During the conference, cash awards and certificates will be given to 53 authors, whose books or articles were selected after a due process, in nine categories. These categories are Seerat and Naat Books in Urdu, English, Arabic, and regional languages of Pakistan.

Federal ministers, politicians, and diplomats of various countries are also attending the event.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan, ,while speaking to Qadri,, had said that the government wishes to present an image of peaceful Islam before the world. For this purpose, “Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conferences” will be held across the country, while a two-day ‘Khatm-i-Nabuwwat International Conference’ will be held in Islamabad, he had said.

He had added that it was the responsibility of the state to present the true teachings of the Prophet to the next generation. PM Khan had also said that research on the life of the Prophet would be promoted under the government’s supervision.

Arrangements for Eid-i-Miladun Nabi

Minister Qadri, while chairing a meeting of the organising committee for conference preparations on Saturday, had said that the occasion of Eid-i-Miladun Nabi would be celebrated with due honour and respect.

He said that special functions and ceremonies would be arranged during Rabiul Awwal in which the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad would be highlighted.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that arrangements would be made for the coverage of processions taken out on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, and that state-owned PTV and Radio Pakistan would air qirat, naats and other programmes on the occasion, along with special programmes to highlight the the Prophet’s teachings.

Eid-i-Miladun Nabi falls on Nov 21 (tomorrow).

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PM Khan counters Trump’s tirade against Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday clapped back at United States (US) President Donald Trump on Monday, suggesting that Washington assess its efficacy in the War on Terror in Afghanistan instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for its failures.

While ,speaking to Fox News, on Sunday, Trump had attempted to justify his administration’s decision at the start of 2018 to pull “military aid” to Pakistan by linking it to Osama bin Laden being found in Pakistan in 2011. “They [Pakistan] don’t do a damn thing for us,” the US president had said.

Speaking of the compound in Abbottabad where bin Laden was found in 2011, Trump said the bin Ladens had been “living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

However, contrary to Trump’s insinuations, former US president Barack Obama, the raid was carried out, had said last year: “We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of his presence — that is something that we looked at.”

Trump also added that the US used to give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year, but doesn’t anymore. “I ended it because they don’t do anything for us.”

Read more: ,’Appeasement does not work with US’: Shireen Mazari claps back at Trump over tirade against Pakistan,

PM Khan responded to Trump’s statements, saying that Islamabad had decided to “participate in the US War on Terror” although no Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

“Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war and over $123 billion was lost,” he added, of which “US ‘aid’ was a miniscule $20bn”, the premier said.

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In addition to economic losses, the PM highlighted the impact of the US war on Pakistan’s tribal areas. “Our tribal areas were devastated and millions of people were uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted the lives of ordinary Pakistanis,” he said.

“Pakistan continues to provide free lines of ground and air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs),” he added.

“Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?” he asked.

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“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 Nato troops, plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” he suggested.

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Earlier today, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari also ,called Trump out, over his remarks about Pakistan, saying: “@realDonaldTrump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!”

Calling Trump’s tirade a lesson for Pakistani leaders “who kept appeasing the US esp after 9/11″, the minister added: “Whether China or Iran, US policies of containment and isolation do not coincide with Pakistan’s strategic interests.”

Relations between the United States and Pakistan, which began to strain in 2011, reached a new low in January when Trump suspended US security assistance to Islamabad over the alleged presence of Afghan militant groups in Fata. The government as well as the military had rejected the charge as incorrect.

The Inter-Services Public Relations had clarified at the time that that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.

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‘Appeasement does not work with US’: Shireen Mazari claps back at Trump over tirade against Pakistan

A day after United States President Donald Trump claimed that Pakistan “does not do anything for his country”, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari ,took to Twitter, to remind the US head of state of the losses incurred by Pakistan over the years.

“The loss of Pakistani lives in US War on Terror, the ,free space for Raymond Davis, and other operatives, the illegal killings by drone attacks — the list is endless,” said Mazari on Monday, adding, “once again history shows appeasement does not work”.

While ,speaking to Fox News, on Sunday, Trump attempted to justify his administration’s decision at the start of 2018 to pull “military aid” to Pakistan by linking it to Osama bin Laden being found in Pakistan in 2011.

“They [Pakistan] don’t do a damn thing for us,” the US president said.

Mazari called “Trump’s tirade against Pakistan” a lesson for those Pakistani leaders “who kept appeasing the US esp after 9/11!”.

The minister added: “Whether China or Iran, US policies of containment and isolation do not coincide with Pakistan’s strategic interests.”

Read: ,Shireen Mazari calls out Trump’s ignorance on US role in destabilising ME,

In reply to another ,tweet calling out Trump over his remarks,, Mazari said: “@realDonaldTrump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!”

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani termed Trump’s remarks “contrary to the facts” and reminded the US president that “Pakistan is not a client state of the US.”

“The US president’s language regarding a sovereign state was aggressive,” he said. “He should be careful; Pakistan is not a state or colony of the US.”

The veteran PPP leader reminded Trump of all that Pakistan did for the US over the years. “The US killed Pakistanis in unauthorised drone attacks, the US sponsored terrorism in Kabul, and a drug industry was created on the Pak-Afghan border for the financial assistance of the US,” he said.

“The Pakistani nation is paying the price of political and economic instability due to its alliance with the US.”

Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif also took note of Trump’s remarks, saying: “We continue to pay in blood for what we did for USA.”

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Relations between the United States and Pakistan, which began to strain in 2011, reached a new low in January when ,Trump suspended US security assistance to Islamabad, over the alleged presence of Afghan militant groups in Fata. The government as well as the military ,had rejected, the charge as incorrect.

The Inter-Services Public Relations ,had clarified at the time, that that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.

Osama bin Laden

Speaking of the compound in Abbottabad ,where bin Laden was found in 2011,, Trump said in the Fox News interview: “You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion,” adding: “I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he continued.

“We give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year… [bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us.”

Contrary to Trump’s insinuations, former US president Barack Obama, under whose tenure the bin Laden raid was carried out, ,while speaking at a summit last year had said,: “We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of his presence — that is something that we looked at.”

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Saudi coalition halts refueling deal with US for Yemen war

A controversial refueling arrangement between the United States and the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen was ended on Saturday, halting a key part of Washington’s involvement in the conflict.

The move came as warplanes ,pounded, the key strategic port city of Hodeida and after Washington’s support for the campaign was placed under increased scrutiny following the brazen murder of dissident journalist ,Jamal Khashoggi, by a Saudi intelligence team.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said he supported Saudi Arabia’s “decision” after the official Saudi Press Agency said the coalition asked for the “cessation of in-flight refueling support” from the United States.

Riyadh’s grinding war in Yemen has caused growing international outcry, particularly after a string of high-profile coalition strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

“Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct in-flight refueling in Yemen,” the SPA said.

“As a result, in consultation with the United States, the coalition has requested cessation of in-flight refueling support for its operations in Yemen.”

Mattis said: “We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

In August the defence secretary warned that US support for the coalition was “not unconditional,” noting it must do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life”.

The Pentagon had provided refueling capabilities for about 20 per cent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen.

Fresh offensive

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the United Nations, and the Houthis in 2015.

The Shia Houthi rebels on Friday launched fierce barrages of mortar fire as they battled to slow an advance by pro-government forces deeper into the port city of Hodeida, military sources said.

Their chief has vowed his troops would never surrender despite being vastly outnumbered, shelled government positions in the south of the Red Sea city, loyalist officials said.

But despite the “intense attacks,” loyalist forces made fresh advances in eastern sectors of Hodeida.

Over one week into the renewed offensive, civilians reported relentless air strikes, low-flying jets and Apache helicopters, mortars and missiles on the outskirts of the city and within five kilometres (three miles) of its strategic port, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement.

The Iran-backed rebels said their fighters had cut off government supply routes in four sectors of Hodeida province, although there was no confirmation from the loyalist side.

On Friday medical sources said that 110 Houthi rebels and 22 pro-government forces had been killed in 24 hours of violence, bringing to at least 382 the number of combatants killed since the battle for Hodeida intensified on November 1.

Backed by Saudi air raids, loyalist troops for the first time entered residential neighbourhoods on Thursday, using bulldozers to remove concrete road blocks installed by the rebels.

Ceasefire plea

Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within the next 30 days.

The United Nations has now pushed that deadline back to the end of the year.

Nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed in the conflict since 2015, according to the World Health Organization. Human rights groups say the real death toll may be five times higher.

UN agencies say some 14 million people are at risk of ,famine, in the country — described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with the World Food Programme saying it will nearly double food aid to the country to avert “mass starvation”.

International criticism over US support for Saudi Arabia grew further following the slaying of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The US sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally, especially in terms of providing a counter to Iranian influence in the region.

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Peace talks in Moscow ‘not about holding negotiations’, say Taliban

Moscow on Friday hosted international talks on Afghanistan aimed at kickstarting direct negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban militant group, both of whom sent delegations.

Russia hopes “through joint efforts to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as the talks opened at a Moscow hotel on Friday morning.

He said that the participation of both Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an “important contribution” aimed at creating “favourable conditions for the start of direct talks”.

“I am counting on you holding a serious and constructive conversation that will justify the hopes of the Afghan people,” he said before the talks continued behind closed doors.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP that the militant group was sending five representatives. They will not hold “any sort of negotiations” with the delegation of Kabul administration, he said.

“This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever, rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan,” he added.

This is the first time that a Taliban delegation is taking part in such high-level international meeting, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

The Taliban is banned from operating in Russia as it is classified as a “terrorist organisation”.

The Afghan delegation is made up of four representatives of the High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri said.

The Afghan foreign ministry has emphasised that the council does not represent the Afghan government at the meeting, however.

Moscow said it had invited representatives from the United States (US) as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Pakistan, which has long been accused of providing support to the Afghan Taliban, would “definitely” attend, foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.

The US embassy in Moscow was sending a representative to observe the discussions.

The Moscow meeting was initially scheduled to take place in September but was postponed after Kabul insisted that the process should be Afghan-led.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time. Newly appointed US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts.

A US government watchdog last week said Kabul’s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered record casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban.

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