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India reiterates need for Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation

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New Delhi, Oct 12: India has reiterated the need for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation in the strife-torn country, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.

New Delhi’s views were made known when an Indian delegation led by Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, participated in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)-Afghanistan Contact Group in Moscow on Wednesday

“India shared its perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, including security challenges posed by terrorism imposed from beyond its borders, the need to strengthen Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, need for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation in an environment free of terror and violence, continued assistance for socio-economic development based on priorities of the people of Afghanistan, and ensuring greater connectivity and regional integration for Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement.

“India conveyed its readiness to work closely with the SCO member states in efforts to bring peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan,” it stated.

India has been a major partner for Afghanistan in terms of development aid but Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has gone on record saying that there will be no Indian boots on the ground in the war-ravaged country.

At his weekly media briefing here, Ravish Kumar, spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, said that India would continue to offer economic assistance to Afghanistan.

“We have identified more than 100 projects. We have also identified six big projects,” Kumar said.

“We will also now start training their police force after the Afghan National Army.”

Wednesday’s meeting of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was held after a gap of seven years after member states of the Eurasian bloc decided to resume the meetings at its summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June this year.

The next meeting of the Contact Group will be held in Beijing in early 2018.

(IANS)

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World

Powerful Quake hits Japan: Three killed,over 50 injured

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Tokyo, June 18: At least three people were killed and over 50 others injured on Monday when an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale jolted Japan’s Osaka city.

Railway services in Osaka, Shiga, Kyoto and Nara, both high speed bullet trains and local rail services, were halted.

The Osaka prefectural government’s disaster management department said two people were found dead, while the Ibaraki city official confirmed a third victim. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said more than 50 were injured in Osaka and nearby prefectures of Hyogo and Kyoto.

The victims comprised a nine-year-old girl and two men, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The earthquake was recorded at 7.58 a.m. and had its hypocenter at about 13 km depth in Osaka Prefecture on the island of Honshu, the largest in the Japanese archipelago, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

However, no tsunami warning was issued, reports Efe news.

Several buildings in Osaka and Takatsuki collapsed and were on fire.

Osaka’s Kansai Airport has been shut down while its runways were being checked for damage.

The authorities said that none of the 15 nuclear reactors in this region have been affected by the quake.

The Japanese government has set up a task force to gather information related to the strong earthquake and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, called on citizens to keep an eye on developments through the media.

Around 170,000 houses in Osaka prefecture are experiencing power outages following the quake, NHK reported.

According to the JMA, this is the first time that the Osaka prefecture has seen an earthquake of this intensity since 1923.

Japan sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, one of the most active seismic zones in the world, and experiences earthquakes frequently, which is why most infrastructure is specially designed to withstand earthquakes.

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Texas car chase: Five immigrants killed

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Washington, June 18 :Five undocumented immigrants in a speeding sport utility vehicle were killed Sunday when it crashed while being chased by border patrol agents and a sheriff’s deputy in a Texas town about 50 miles from the border with Mexico.

The fatal crash occurred around noon local time near Big Wells, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd told reporters.

Boyd said a total of 14 people were inside the SUV and several were ejected out of the vehicle when it rolled onto Highway 85.

“Border patrol was pursuing a vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban, and one of my deputies assisted and took over the pursuit just west of Big Wells,” Boyd said.

“The vehicle was travelling at around 100 miles per hour and from what we could tell the vehicle ran off the road, caught gravel, then tried to recorrect and that caused the vehicle to turn over several times.”

He said four people died at the scene, and several were flown by emergency helicopter to a hospital in San Antonio. One person died upon arriving at the hospital, reports ABC News.

The driver of the SUV was taken into custody.

The sheriff said it was just the latest in a series of police chases involving human and drug smugglers in the Big Wells area.

Sunday’s crash comes amid widespread protests over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies that include separating undocumented children from parents caught sneaking them into the country.(IANS)

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FIFA World Cup: Spirited Switzerland hold off-colour Brazil

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Rostov (Russia), June 18: Switzerland came up with a gritty, fighting performance to hold title contenders Brazil 1-1 in a Group E match of the FIFA World Cup here on Sunday.

Both teams now have one point each.

Serbia are at the top of the group with three points, thanks to their victory over Costa Rica earlier in the day.

Brazil’s laboured efforts in their campaign opener continued this World Cup’s trend of big teams struggling to overcome lesser rated opponents.

Fellow title contenders Germany, Argentina and Spain have also failed to win their respective opening matches.

Even though former champions Uruguay and France enjoyed winning starts, they were forced to struggle before eking out narrow wins over relatively weaker opponents.

Brazil dominated the early stages of Sunday’s match but the talented Swiss team gradually found their rhythm and started to create moves off the counter.

Philippe Coutinho handed Brazil the lead with an in-swinging, dipping free-kick in the 20th minute.

Switzerland made a strong comeback after the break with Steven Zuber exploiting some loose marking to head in the equalizer off a corner in the 50th minute.

The goal seemed to rejuvenate the Europeans and they put the five-time world champions on to the back foot with some excellent attacking play.

The South Americans gradually regained their attacking rhythm but were repeatedly let down by the poor quality of their final pass.

The Swiss defence was extremely well organised and allowed very little space to the Brazil forwards.

The Europeans employed tight marking and some tough, physical defending to thwart the repeated Brazilian attacks.

The Swiss defenders were guilty of committing numerous cynical fouls on Brazil’s star forward Neymar throughout the game.

Brazil’s attacking talisman, who struggled to recover from a foot injury before the tournament, did his level best, but was left battered by repeated fouls.

The Swiss players tried everything — pulling Neymar’s jersey, body checks and even the good old boot to the leg — to stop the Brazil star.

The rest of the Brazil forward line also struggled to penetrate the well organised Swiss defence.

Although they did create several half chances, Brazil were let down by poor finishing on those occasions.

The Swiss were having finishing problems of their own at the other end of the pitch and failed to take advantage even though the Brazil defence allowed them time and space on several occasions.

One of Brazil’s best chances fell to Miranda a couple of minutes into second-half injury time.

But the defender fired his close range attempt narrowly wide of the post with Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer well and truly beaten.

Neymar had another chance to redeem a rather forgettable performance in the closing seconds when Brazil were awarded a free-kick just outside the Swiss penalty box.

But the former FC Barcelona star came up with yet another poor effort as the Swiss enjoyed an excellent start to their campaign.

IANS

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