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Ghani cancels US trip after Trump declines meeting

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Ashraf Ghani

Kabul (IANS) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani cancelled his visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting after his American counterpart Donald Trump declined to meet him, a media report said Sunday.

However, government officials rejected the claim as baseless.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah left for the US to attend the 73rd UNGA meeting.

The CEO, heading a high-level delegation, would take part in the assembly on behalf of the unity government and express Kabul’s views on different issues, a statement from his office said.

Abdullah will underline the need for countering terrorism and narcotics, and for enhancing regional and international cooperation with Afghanistan in this regard. The CEO would explain Afghanistan’s preparations for the parliamentary and district council elections.

A reliable source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), wishing anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News that it was expected that President Donald Trump and President Ashraf Ghani would meet on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting in New York.

He said a delegation in this regard recently visited the US, but President Trump declined the request and said that Ghani could meet Vice President Mike Pence.

National Security Council spokesman Qader Shah said he was unaware of the development while the Presidential Palace rejected the claim of the MoFA source.

Deputy Presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazavi rejected the president was intending to attend the UNGA meeting and said the CEO would participate in the meeting.

He said the country’s situation demanded that the President should remain at home and not participate in multinational conferences.

MoFA spokesman Sifatullah Ahmadi also termed the claim of meeting cancellation as baseless.

Middle East

Palestinians protest against normalisation agreement between Israel, UAE

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Palestinians protest UAE-Israel deal

GAZA/RAMALLAH, Aug. 14 : Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza on Friday against the United States’ sponsored normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Islamic Jihad Movement and other Palestinian factions organized the demonstration in Gaza city. Leaders of the factions, including the Hamas movement, joined the protest.

The crowds went out from al-Omari main mosque in Gaza city, waving flags and chanting slogans against the UAE. They marched the main street and gathered at Palestine square in the city’s downtown.

They carried banners writing “Palestine is not for sale” “No for normalization and no for those who lead normalization with the occupation” and “normalization is a knife in the back of the Palestinian people.”

Member of the Islamic Jihad Movement’s political bureau Khaled Al-Batsh renewed the Palestinian people’s condemnation and rejection of the agreement, calling on the UAE to withdraw its recognition of Israel immediately.

Hamas movement leader Mushir al-Masri addressed during the demonstration on behalf of the other factions’ leaders that the Palestinian people described the declaration of the agreement as “a black day for our people and cause.”

“The agreement is a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause and an unpardonable diplomatic action that no one forgives. It is a stab in the back of the Palestinians and gives free services to the occupation,” al-Masri said.

Protests also took place in some West Bank cities.

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CDC forecast projects 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in US by Sept 5

If the United States allowed the coronavirus to spread unchecked in an attempt to try to achieve so-called herd immunity, the “death toll would be enormous,” Anthony Fauci, U.S. top infectious disease expert, warned.

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Coronavirus Death US

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 : A new ensemble forecast published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has projected up to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Sept. 5.

The projection published Thursday forecast that 4,200 to 10,600 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Sept. 5 and that 180,000 to 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths will be reported by that date.

“State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Colorado and may decrease in Arizona, the Northern Mariana Islands, Vermont, and Wyoming,” the CDC said on its forecasting website.

If the United States allowed the coronavirus to spread unchecked in an attempt to try to achieve so-called herd immunity, the “death toll would be enormous,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Thursday.

“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said during a live Instagram session.

“Testing continues to fall, especially in the South, one of the areas where the country needs it the most. Cases, too, are falling, which remains hard to interpret, given the testing decline — but fewer people are now in the hospital with COVID-19 than last week,” said a new report of The COVID Tracking Project.

This is the second week in a row that hospitalizations seem to have dropped, which suggests that infections may be declining independently of testing reductions, according to the report.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 5.29 million as of Friday afternoon with more than 168,100 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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Middle East

Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

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erdogan

ISTANBUL : Turkey is considering suspending diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and withdrawing its ambassador over the Gulf state’s accord to normalise ties with Israel, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

The Turkish foreign ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behaviour” in agreeing such a deal, which recasts the order of Middle East politics.

Under the U.S.-brokered, the first between Israel and a Gulf Arab, the Jewish state agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Palestinian leaders have denounced it as a “stab in the back” to their cause.

“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached. Now, Palestine is either closing or withdrawing its embassy. The same thing is valid for us now,” Erdogan said, adding he gave orders to his foreign minister.

“I told him we may also take a step in the direction of suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador,” he told reporters after Friday prayers.

The Foreign Ministry had earlier said Palestinians were right to reject the deal in which the UAE betrayed their cause.

“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour,” it said. “It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the (2002) Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League.”

Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years. In 2010 Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

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