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Afghanistan Led Peace Talks Supported By Nations

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban.

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Afghanistan, U.N., Taliban
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a U.N. conference on Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2018, at U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday that he had put together a team of diplomats and experts for prospective peace talks with the Taliban.

Ghani spoke at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Geneva that was focused on ending 17 years of conflict with the rebel group, which did not attend the gathering.

The two-day conference shifted its focus from Afghanistan’s development and reform agenda to the quest for peace. U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said that according to delegates, the country has little hope of achieving its goals of stability, security and prosperity without peace.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Tadamichi Yamamoto, U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Perhaps this is the first ministerial meeting when the issue of peace has been taken up with so much weight in addition to the regular issues, which are development, growth, social issues and reforms,” he said.

Yamamoto said the international community had agreed to keep helping Afghanistan now and to continue aid after a peace agreement was reached.

Delegates at the conference were putting the final touches on a comprehensive document of support as a car bomb struck a British security compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said events such as this bolstered his people’s resolve for peace.

Veterans, PTSD, Afghan, Taliban
An internally displaced Afghan woman who fled from recent conflict cooks bread outside a shelter in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017. VOA

‘Patient focus’ required

“There is consensus within Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan that the time for peace is now,” Mohib said. “We cannot squander this opportunity. It must be handled with patient focus and with a realistic understanding that it will take time to make sure peace is achieved and then implemented in a sustainable manner.”

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban. He said it was time for the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, not just Washington.

Also Read: Opium Cultivation Goes Down By 20% in Afghanistan: U.N.

While he appreciated the international support, Mohib said the peace process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned for it to work. (VOA)

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More Than 7,000 People in Afghanistan Infected with HIV: WHO Report

Another HIV patient Omar, said: "If we go to hospitals and tell them that we have HIV Aids, they don't treat us."

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WHO
A study by WHO revealed that most of the European women with HIV are diagnosed at a late stage. Wikimedia Commons

Some 7,200 people in Afghanistan were estimated to be HIV positive, according to figures released by the the World Health Organization (WHO).

Marking World Aids Day, the WHO on Sunday called for a broader public awareness campaign in Afghanistan to deal with the issue, reports TOLO News.

But the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said that it registered only 2,883 cases of HIV in the country.

“According to our statistics, there are 2,883 cases of HIV registered in the country. The 7,200 cases reported by the World Health Organization are only an estimate,” said Fida Mohammad Paikan, deputy minister of public health.

AIDS and HIV
Stimulation of the wound healing response during early infection could have a protective effect against disease like AIDS from the HIV infection. Pixabay

Referring to factors behind the spread of the virus, Paikan said: “Last year the Ministry of Public Health registered 183 cases of HIV, and the figure has decreased to 150 new cases this year. But we need to undertake a comprehensive study to determine the exact number of those suffering from the disease.”

Victims however, have complained of social discrimination.

Also Read: Smartphones Hotspots of Cyberattacks in India: Check Point

Mohammad Idris, who contracted the disease from an infected needle during a drug injection, told TOLO News: “We are facing a lot of problems because we cannot share about our illness with others.”

Another HIV patient Omar, said: “If we go to hospitals and tell them that we have HIV Aids, they don’t treat us.” (IANS)

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Global Protests on Climate Change Starts in Australia

Australia Kickstarts Global Climate Protests

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Student activists for Climate Australia
Student activists from School Strike for Climate Australia (SS4C) hold a 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside of the office of the Liberal Party of Australia in Sydney, Australia. VOA

BY PHIL MERCER

Thousands of people in Asia and Europe took part in rallies Friday, demanding more action on climate change. Protesters urged world leaders to frame solutions at a U.N. conference next week.

The global rallies started in Australia, where there was anger and defiance as thousands of students walked out of classes to demand stronger action on climate change, which they blamed for making the country’s bushfire crisis worse.

In November, parts of eastern Australia were hit by an unprecedented fire emergency. Six people died and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Dozens of blazes continue to burn.

 Climate activists in France
Youth for Climate activists hold a banner which reads: “climate justice” as they demonstrate during a day of protest to denounce the annual Black Friday shopping frenzy in Nantes, France. VOA

Scientists are warning that global warming is making Australia’s annual bushfire season longer and more extreme. Teenage protesters in Sydney said the threat is there for all to see.

Grim outlook

“The fires are bigger, the fires are more dangerous, the fires are in spring, not summer,” one male teen said. “We are not in summer yet. I will tell you one thing unequivocally: If we do not so anything about climate change, it is going to get worse.”

“A lot of us in our generation cannot vote right now,” a female youth said, “but as soon as we can vote, there is going to be a massive change, because we are going to start taking over and and we are going to start fixing things.”

Demonstrators have called on Australia to end its use of fossil fuels. That, in the short term, appears unlikely. Coal generates most of the nation’s electricity, and exports pump billions of dollars into the economy.

A climate change activist lies on the ground as they stage a ‘drop dead’ flashmob protest against environmental crisis Lumpini Park in Bangkok, Thailand. VOA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is an ardent supporter of the coal industry. He castigated local council leaders for linking the deadly bushfires with climate change. Morrison has insisted Australia is taking its environmental obligations seriously.

2,000-plus rallies

Friday’s climate strikes were expected to take place in more than 2,000 cities in 153 countries, according to the Friday for Future movement. There were protests in Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Vienna and Frankfurt.

Also Read- Women Affected The Most By Environmental Stress: Study

Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has galvanized a global environmental movement of young people, was to have joined a student strike in Lisbon, Portugal, but her ecologically friendly voyage by yacht across the Atlantic Ocean from New York was hit by high winds, delaying her arrival by a few days.

The protests came ahead of the annual U.N. climate conference that starts Monday in Madrid. (VOA)

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United Nations Chief Says “Don’t Change Kashmir Status”

Don't change Kashmir status, UN chief to both sides

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united nations
UN Secretary General concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir. Pixabay

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came out on Thursday against changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and backed Security Council resolutions, of which the main one requires Pakistan to withdraw all its nationals from Kashmir.

His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General calls on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.”

The Council’s Resolution 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, said Pakistan should withdraw its nationals from Kashmir before a plebiscite can be held. Pakistan, however, continues to occupy a significant part of Kashmir making a plebiscite impossible.

Since then, India has said a plebiscite was moot because of Pakistan’s continued occupation and because Kashmiris have had their say in state and national elections.

“The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.

United nations
UN Chief comments on abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Pixabay

While calling for maximum restraint, “the Secretary-General is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”, he added.

The Charter provisions directly applicable to the India-Pakistan situation require members to settle their disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any nation.

The Charter also says that the UN cannot “intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”.

The Simla Agreement signed in 1972 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was Pakistan’s President at that time, also said that Kashmir was a bilateral issue, thus ruling out third-party intervention.

United nations
UN Chief says that all parties must refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pixabay

The Secretary General’s office circulated to members of the Security Council a letter written by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Guterres on August 1 expressing concern about the situation in Kashmir. He also asked Guterres to set up a “fact-finding mission” for Kashmir and to appoint a special representative.

Also Read: Experts Say Rajasthan Has Highest Deaths Due To Air Pollution

Dujarric said that the letter was being studied and no decision has been taken on appointing a special representative.

He said that the Secretariat was in contact with the Permanent Missions of India and Pakistan over the recent developments.

Joanna Wronecka, the President of the Security Council, refused to answer a reporter’s question about Qureshi’s letter and if there would any action on it. (IANS)