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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.

World

India blaming us without probe: Pakistan

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Dr Mohammad Faisal

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan on Sunday told foreign envoys here that India was blaming it for a horrific suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir even without any investigation.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said this to diplomats from Africa and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states.

The Dawn newspaper quoted Janjua as saying that there was “a familiar pattern of India blaming Pakistan instantly after such incidents without any investigation”, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said a “deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy is being spurred in India” and warned that “baseless Indian allegations and aggressive rhetoric are counterproductive and a threat to regional peace”.

Islamabad’s statement came three days after the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district that killed 49 troopers.

Pakistan said it had rejected India’s allegations of its complicity because they were “made within a short time from the attack and without carrying out any investigations.

“These knee-jerk and preconceived accusations were nevertheless consistent with well-rehearsed tactics from the Indian playbook after such incidents in the past,” the Foreign Office statement added.

“Bluster, belligerence and pursuit of expedient standards to suit internal political interests is both delusional and counterproductive.

“India must come out of the denial mode, end state repression against Kashmiri youth, address widespread alienation in (Jammu and Kashmir) and pursue the path of dialogue,” the statement said.

The Foreign Office also raised questions over India’s acceptance of a video released by the attacker claiming to have ties to the JeM, saying New Delhi had double standards.

“India needs to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack,” it said. “India owes an explanation on reports of (suicide bomber) Adil Ahmed Dar’s arrest and custody since 2017.”

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Middle East

Counter-terrorism, energy security to top Indian agenda during Saudi Crown Prince visit

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saudi prince

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Counter-terrorism, including Pakistans role in sponsoring terrorism against India, and energy security are likely to be on top of Indias agenda for discussion during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans visit starting on Tuesday.

India is expected to take up with the Saudi Crown Prince Pakistan’s role in the Pulwama terror attack that killed at least 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, informed sources said.

India has already started diplomatic efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefing envoys of around two dozen nations including those of P-5 and South Asian nations about Pakistan’s footprint in the Pulwama attack.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to New Delhi Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saty has said that Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India presents a “historic opportunity” to expand collaboration in all sectors.

Moammed bin Salman is on a three-nation diplomatic tour to Pakistan, India and China.

He will be on a two-day visit to India staring February 19 and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He is visiting Pakistan before coming to India.

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India yet to tell us about MFN status withdrawal: Pakistan

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Abdul Razak Dawood Pakistan
Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan's Prime Minister

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan said on Sunday that it has not yet been informed by India on withdrawing the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Islamabad in the wake of a bloody suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Commerce, said: “We are looking into the withdrawal of MFN status by India. We can speak to India about this issue.

“Pakistan can raise this issue at different forums including the World Trade Forum,” The Nation quoted him as saying.

A day after the terror attack on Thursday, India announced it was taking back the MFN status given to Pakistan in 1995.

The status means that a country will treat all World Trade Organisation member states equally in matters of tariffs on imports.

After withdrawing the MFN status, New Delhi imposed a 200 per cent import duty on all goods originating or exported from Pakistan.

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