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Iran’s Rouhani calls on US President-elect Biden to return to nuclear deal

Reuters

Tehran, Jan 20: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged US President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday to return to a 2015 nuclear deal and lift crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, has said the United States will rejoin the pact that includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work if Tehran resumes strict compliance.

“The ball is in the US court now. If Washington returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

“Today, we expect the incoming US administration to return to the rule of law and commit themselves, and if they can, in the next four years, to remove all the black spots of the previous four years,” he said.

Tensions have grown between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when US President Donald Trump exited the deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to limit Tehran’s nuclear program and prevent it developing atomic weapons.

Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran, which denies ever seeking nuclear arms, retaliated to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy by gradually breaching accord. Tehran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if US sanctions are removed.

Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, said on Tuesday the United States would not take a quick decision on whether to rejoin the pact.

“US President Donald Trump’s political career is over today and his ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran has completely failed,” Rouhani said. “Trump is dead but the nuclear deal is still alive.”

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New Taliban govt to uphold Islamic rules and Sharia law: Statement

(Asian News Hub) – Taliban soldiers walk towards Afghans shouting slogans, during an anti-Pakistan demonstration, near the Pakistan embassy in Kabul.

The Taliban’s religious leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, hours after the announcement of the new Afghanistan cabinet, issued a statement saying the new cabinet will start its work immediately.

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“As a caretaker and committed cabinet has been announced by the authorities of the Islamic Emirate to control and run the affairs of the country which will start functioning at the earliest, I assure all the countrymen that the figures will work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and Sharia law in the country, protecting the country’s highest interests, securing Afghanistan’s borders, and to ensuring lasting peace, prosperity and development,” Akhundzada said.

Also Read: Magnitude 7.0 quake strikes Mexico, no reports of serious damage

The statement also said the new government remains committed to protecting human rights.

“The Islamic Emirate will take serious and effective steps towards protecting human rights, the rights of minorities as well as the rights of the underprivileged groups within the framework of the demands of the sacred religion of Islam,” reads the statement.

AP

Also Read: PEC condoles demise of Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty

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PEC condoles demise of Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty

(Asian News Hub) – Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the Switzerland-based global media safety body, expressed condolences over the death of
prominent Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty, who fell prey to clashes erupted between the Taliban fighters and the national resistance force
in Panshir valley on 5 September 2021.

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Associated with Kabul Weekly newspaper, Fahim was lately working as a spokesperson for Ahmad Massoud  led National Resistance Front of
Afghanistan. The anti-Taliban front officials claimed that Fahim was targeted by the Pakistani air-force drones at Anaba locality in Panshir valley. As the Taliban militants invaded Afghanistan, he joined the resistance force, popularly known as Northern Alliance.

Besides pursuing professional journalism, Fahim was also associated with Federation of Afghan Journalists and  Afghanistan National Journalists Union.

Also Read: Magnitude 7.0 quake strikes Mexico, no reports of serious damage

Born into a progressive family at Dashtak village
under Anaba district in 1972, Fahim graduated from Istiqlal high school and studied law and political science at Kabul university.

“Fahim Dashty becomes the tenth journalist killed in Afghanistan since January 2021 turning the south-Asian nation the most dangerous place
for working journalists. The PEC is gravely concerned about the wellbeing of local journalists as well as journalists reporting for
international media outlets,” said Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC.

PEC calls on Afghanistan’s new authorities to ensure the safety of journalists and to respect press freedom, stated Lempen adding that
the global organisation was very concerned by the rapidly changing socio-political situation in Afghanistan for some years. He added that
over the past 20 years, independent media proliferated in the trouble-torn country.

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As the Taliban gains power almost across Afghanistan, the journalists are coming under increasing attacks. Those who defy the Taliban face threats, pressure, kidnapping and murder. Female journalists are at greater risk due to their public roles and all of them are now banned
from presenting news in television channels, asserted Lempen.

“Altogether 55 journalists have been killed so far this year around the world and Fahim Dashty emerges as the latest victim,” said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s south and southeast Asia representative adding that the armed militants had earlier killed Bismillah Adil Aimaq, Shahnaz Raoufi, Saadia Sadat, Mursal Waheedi, Mina Khairi, Toofan Omar,
Alireza Ahmadi, Najma Sadeqi and Danish Siddiqui (acclaimed photo-journalist from India).

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Magnitude 7.0 quake strikes Mexico, no reports of serious damage

(Asian News Hub) – A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Mexico near the beach resort of Acapulco on Tuesday night, causing rock falls and damaging buildings, though there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The 7.0 magnitude quake, which struck 11 miles northeast of the resort of Acapulco, Guerrero, shook the hillsides around Acapulco, downing trees and pitching large boulders onto the road.

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said while the quake had sent rocks tumbling down hillsides and damaged walls, it had not caused major damages in Acapulco’s home state of Guerrero or the neighboring region of Oaxaca, or Mexico City.

“Fortunately there hasn’t been serious damage,” he said. “We have no information so far about the loss human lives.” Acapulco is roughly 230 miles (375 km) from Mexico City.

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In the Roma Sur neighborhood of Mexico City, lights went off and scared residents rushed out, some wearing little more than pajamas, a Reuters witness said. Residents huddled together in the rain, holding young children or pets, too worried to return to their homes in the dark.

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“It was terrible. It really reminds me of the 1985 quake every time something like this happens,” said Yesmin Rizk, a 70-year-old Roma Sur resident.

The USGS said the quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 7.4 and later downgraded to 7.0, was very shallow, only 7.8 miles (12.5 km) below the surface, which would have amplified the shaking effect.

Reporting by Uriel Sanchez and Dave Graham, additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Writing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Sandra Maler, Christopher Cushing and Ana Nicolaci da Costa.

Reuters

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