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US, EU envoys due in Vienna for new Iran nuclear talks

US and EU's Iran nuclear envoys said they were travelling to Vienna for talks with Tehran delegation

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US, EU envoys due in Vienna for new Iran nuclear talks
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Vienna: The United States and the European Union s Iran nuclear envoys on Wednesday said they were travelling to Vienna for talks with Tehran’s delegation as they seek to salvage the agreement on its atomic ambitions.

The US State Department’s point man on negotiations with Iran, Rob Malley, announced his trip to Austria on Twitter after talks over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme have stalled for months.

"Our expectations are in check, but the United States welcomes EU efforts and is prepared for a good faith attempt to reach a deal," Malley said.

"It will shortly be clear if Iran is prepared for the same," he added.

EU nuclear coordinator Enrique Mora was also due in Vienna "to discuss (getting) JCPOA back to full implementation", he tweeted and referring to the 2015 deal intended to prevent Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran said it was "optimistic" about the talks as it also announced on Wednesday it was sending a delegation led by Ali Bagheri "as part of the policy of lifting cruel sanctions against our country".

"Heading to Vienna to advance the negotiations," Bagheri tweeted.

"The Onus is on those who breached the deal and have failed to distance from ominous legacy. The US must seize the opportunity offered by the JCPOA partner’s generosity; ball is in their court to show maturity and act responsibly."

Negotiations between Iran and world powers, which began in 2021 to reintegrate Joe Biden's United States into the agreement, have been stalled since March.

In late June, Qatar hosted indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in the hope of getting the process back on track -- but those talks failed to make a breakthrough.

In a last-ditch effort, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell submitted a compromise proposal last month and called on the parties to accept it to avoid a "dangerous nuclear crisis".

Borrell said the draft text includes "hard-won compromises by all sides" and "addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore" the 2015 pact.

-  Hope for a breakthrough -

A Vienna-based European diplomat told AFP he welcomed "a meeting that showcases the willingness of everyone to move forward".

"It's positive, but at the same time nothing is guaranteed. We have been trying to conclude the negotiations for months," he added.

Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group said the parties return to Vienna means there is "some hope for a breakthrough".

But Henry Rome, an Iran specialist at American consultancy Eurasia Group, told AFP expectations were "rightfully modest" because the United States and Iran "remain far apart" key issues.

These include sanctions, Iranian demands for guarantees and the end of a probe by the UN nuclear watchdog. "Resolving each of them will be hard," said Vaez.

But "both sides benefit from keeping the prospect of a deal alive even as they both seem resigned to its eventual demise," Rome told AFP.

"Given how unattractive the alternatives to the agreement are for both sides, neither is willing to pull the plug on the negotiations," added Vaez.

Signed by Iran and six powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- the JCPOA aims to guarantee the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions.

But following the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 under Donald Trump and the re-imposition of US sanctions, Tehran has backtracked on its obligations.

Iran subsequently exceeded the JCPOA’s uranium enrichment rate of 3.67 percent, rising to 20 percent in early 2021.

It then crossed an unprecedented 60-percent threshold, getting closer to the 90 percent needed to make a bomb.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, on Tuesday warned Iran’s programme was "moving ahead very, very fast" and "growing in ambition and capacity".

SOURCE: AFP

 

Pakistan

PM Shehbaz Sharif orders immediate formulation of agricultural reforms plan within two days

The recommendations were presented including both short and long-term plans

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PM Shehbaz Sharif orders immediate formulation of agricultural reforms plan within two days

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to formulate an emergency agricultural reforms plan within two days to facilitate the farmers and uplift the sector. 

The prime minister, who was presented the recommendations of eight sub-committees of different relevant sectors, said the reforms plan should be based on the recommendations of the said sub-committees. 

The prime minister, while chairing a high-level meeting, said he would announce a comprehensive agricultural reforms plan very soon to achieve prosperity of the farmers, enhance agricultural production and reduce input prices.

The recommendations presented to the prime minister included both short and long-term plans.

The prime minister resolved that the government would provide facilities to the farmers on emergency basis including low-cost seeds and fertilizers.

The meeting resolved that the companies selling substandard seeds and pesticides would be done away with and that the relevant institutions would be facilitated the introduction of quality seeds.

The prime minister said the government would also provide modern equipment and facilitate the process of loans.

Moreover, the silos would be constructed to help the farmers store wheat and agricultural produces.

The prime minister also called for measures to enhance per acre yield before the cotton sowing season and ensure the provision of subsidies to the farmers on the agriculture inputs.

He asked the authorities concerned to keep into consideration the impacts of climate change, during the formulation of agricultural reforms.

Moreover, he also called for running an awareness campaign to acquaint the farmers with modern agricultural methods.

The sub committees constituted on the subjects including wheat, cotton, edible oil, fertilizers, agricultural research, usage of water, climate change and agricultural equipment briefed the prime minister.

At the meeting, the recommendations were presented on the yield of wheat, cotton and edible oil, provision of modern machinery on reduced rates, subsidy on urea and DAP, expected production and import, quality seeds, better utility of water and timely provision of loans to the farmers. 

Federal ministers Tariq Bashir Cheema, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Miftah Ismail, Special Assistants to PM Ahad Cheema and Muhammad Jahanzeb and senior officers attended the meeting.

The secretaries of agriculture of all provinces also joined the meeting through video link. 

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Regional

Relief operations for flood affectees in full swing by PAF in South Punjab Region

Basic food items and commodities were distributed amongst the needy families

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Relief operations for flood affectees in full swing by PAF in South Punjab Region

Rawalpindi: Relief operations for the flood affectees are in full swing by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in South Punjab Region.

According to a press release, food and medical facilities are being provided round the clock to the affected families by the relief teams of PAF.

12155 pounds of basic food items and commodities were distributed amongst the needy families. Moreover, 939 patients were also attended by the paramedical team of Pakistan Air Force.

The recent floods have caused devastation in the low-lying areas of South Punjab Region, badly damaging the villages and infrastructure.

Despite inclement weather conditions throughout the country, especially in flood stricken areas, PAF personnel are working hard to provide humanitarian assistance to flood affectees.

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World

10 including prominent cleric killed in bombing at Kabul mosque

There were fears the casualty numbers could rise further.

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10 including prominent cleric killed in bombing at Kabul mosque

A bombing at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul during evening prayers on Wednesday killed at least 10 people, including a prominent cleric, and wounded at least 27, an eyewitness and police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power. Several children were reported to be among the wounded.

The Islamic State group’s local affiliate has stepped up attacks targeting the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents’ takeover last August as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country. Last week, the IS claimed responsibility for killing a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious center in Kabul.

According to the eyewitness, a resident of the city’s Kher Khanna neighborhood where the Siddiquiya Mosque was targeted, the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber. The slain cleric was Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli, the eyewitness said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. 
 
He added that more than 30 other people were wounded. The Italian Emergency hospital in Kabul said that at least 27 wounded civilians, including five children, were brought there from the site of the bomb blast.

There were fears the casualty numbers could rise further.

Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Kabul police chief, confirmed an explosion inside a mosque in northern Kabul but would not provide a casualty toll or a breakdown of the dead and wounded.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also condemned the explosion and vowed that the “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished.”

A U.S.-led invasion toppled the previous Taliban government, which had hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Since regaining power, the former insurgents have faced a crippling economic crisis as the international community, which does not recognize the Taliban government, froze funding to the country.

Separately, the Taliban confirmed on Wednesday that they had captured and killed Mehdi Mujahid in western Herat province as he was trying to cross the border into Iran.

Mujahid was a former Taliban commander in the district of Balkhab in northern Sar-e-Pul province, and the only member of the minority Shiite Hazara community among the Taliban ranks.

Mujahid had turned against the Taliban over the past year, after opposing decisions made by Taliban leaders in Kabul.

SOURCE: AP NEWS

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