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Talks with Taliban in Doha were 'candid and professional', says US

Washington: The United States said on Sunday the first face-to-face meeting between senior U.S. and Taliban officials was "candid and professional" and that the U.S. side reiterated that the Taliban would be judged on their actions, not just their words.

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Taliban and US at Doha
Taliban and US at Doha

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. delegation at the weekend talks in Doha, Qatar, focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and Afghans, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society.

He said the two sides also discussed "the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people."

"The discussions were candid and professional with the U.S. delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words," Price said in a statement.

It did not say if any agreements were reached.

The foreign ministry in Kabul said the two-day meeting went well. It welcomed the U.S. offer of humanitarian assistance and said local authorities would facilitate delivery and cooperate with aid groups but said such assistance "should not be linked to political issues".

"Detailed discussions were held during the meeting about all relevant issues. And efforts should be exerted to restore diplomatic relations to a better state," the ministry said in a statement, adding that similar meetings would be held in the future if required.

On Saturday, Qatar-based Al Jazeera television quoted Afghanistan's acting foreign minister as saying that Taliban representatives asked the U.S. side to lift a ban on Afghan central bank reserves.

It said the minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, also said Washington would offer Afghans coronavirus vaccines and that the two sides discussed "opening a new page" between the two countries.

Biden administration officials told Reuters on Friday the U.S. delegation would press the Taliban to release kidnapped American Mark Frerichs. Another top priority would be to hold the Taliban to their commitment not to allow Afghanistan to again become a hotbed for al Qaeda or other extremists.

The Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August, almost 20 years after they were ousted in a U.S.-led invasion for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The U.S. officials said the weekend meeting was a continuation of "pragmatic engagements" with the Taliban and "not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy" to the group.  
U.S. officials say they are in contact with dozens of Americans and legal permanent residents who wish to leave Afghanistan and there are thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans at risk of Taliban persecution still in the country.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. They are trying to work out how to engage with the Taliban without granting the group the legitimacy it seeks while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Moataz Abdelrahiem in Cairo, James Mackenzie in Islamabad; Editing by Ross Colvin, Peter Cooney, and Raju Gopalakrishnan

SOURCE: REUTERS 

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Regional

Public holiday in Karachi as Cyclone Gulab triggers extreme weather warning 

Sindh's administration has announced a public holiday in the megacity on Friday (October 1) amid the in view of extreme weather emergency caused by a tropical cyclone Gulab in the Arabian Sea.

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Public holiday in Karachi as Cyclone Gulab triggers extreme weather warning 

Karachi: Sindh's administration has announced a public holiday in the megacity on Friday (October 1) amid the in view of extreme weather emergency caused by a tropical cyclone Gulab in the Arabian Sea.

Releasing an official notification on Thursday, Commissioner Karachi said that all provincial offices and businesses in Karachi would remain closed today.

The notification also advices general public to take precautions and remain indoors for safety.

In addition, Karachi University has canceled all examinations scheduled for today.  As per Controller Examinations, Dr. Zafar, the new dates for the examinations will be announced later.

However, the holiday will not apply to hospitals, local bodies and compulsory service agencies. 

Meanwhile, the meteorological department has forecast moderate to heavy rains and possibly isolated heavy rains between Friday and Saturday under the influence of deep pressure in the Arabian Sea, which turned into a tropical cyclone today.

A low air pressure system could turn into a hurricane, added the Meteorological Department forecast note.

The Met department, on Sunday, also warned fishermen not to go out to sea until October 3.

Following the situation, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has assigned the duties of overseeing relief and rescue operations to the ministers. 

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Pakistan

Pakistan logs 1,212 new COVID cases; positivity ratio at 2.60%  

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,212 cases of coronavirus were reported while 39 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,986.

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Pakistan logs 1,212 new COVID cases; positivity ratio at 2.60%  

Islamabad: Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves. Today, the daily positivity rate in-country is at 2.60%.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,212 cases of coronavirus were reported while 39 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,986.

The total number of cases has reached 1,253,868.

As many as 1,181,054 patients have recovered from the disease with 3,079 critical cases.

Punjab 

The number of patients swelled to 434,139 in the province with 12,724 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 461,258 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,451.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 175,012 in the province with 5,608 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 33,004 confirmed cases while 349 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,278 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 738. On the other hand, there are 10,338 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 105,839 cases in the capital city while 930 people have lost their lives.

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Pakistan

Pakistan logs over 600 new COVID infections, 20 deaths 

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 603 cases of coronavirus were reported while 20 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,300.

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Pakistan logs over 600 new COVID infections, 20 deaths 

Islamabad: Amid a steady decline in Covid-19 infections, Pakistan's coronavirus positivity ratio further fell to 1.37% with 603 new cases.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 603 cases of coronavirus were reported while 20 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,300.

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves.

The total number of cases has reached 1,265,650.

As many as 1,211,710 patients have recovered from the disease with 1,852 critical cases.

Punjab

The number of patients swelled to 438,133 in the province with 12,861 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 466,154 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,533.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 176,950 in the province with 5,689 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 33,133 confirmed cases while 354 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,406 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 740. On the other hand, there are 10,370 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 106,504 cases in the capital city while 937 people have lost their lives.  

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