Afghan chief executive visits India to enhance trade, strategic ties

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, right, welcomes Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in New Delhi, on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 30 September 2017

Afghan chief executive visits India to enhance trade, strategic ties

NEW DELHI: Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah paid a two-day visit to India as part of US and Afghan efforts to have New Delhi play a greater role in Afghanistan.
Abdullah attended “Passage to Prosperity,” a US-sponsored trade and investment initiative focusing on better regional integration by strengthening Afghan-Indian economic ties.
“The relationship between India and Afghanistan is very healthy and forward-looking,” Abdullah told the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi on Friday. On Thursday, New Delhi signed an agreement with Kabul to train Afghan police.
An Indian government statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “reiterated India’s commitment to extend full support to Afghanistan’s efforts for building a peaceful, united, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Afghanistan.”
Abdullah was accompanied by around 200 Afghan businessmen and traders, who set up stalls at “Passage to Prosperity” to explore opportunities in India while tapping new markets for Afghan products such as carpets, spices and farm produce.
Entrepreneurs from other fields such as health care, infrastructure and energy also attended the event, seeking support from Indian investors.
The biggest space in the investment fair was occupied by people exploring the “traditional Afghan dried-fruit market in India,” dried-fruit seller Nasser Ahmad told Arab News.
He expressed hope that the air corridor established between India and Afghanistan “will facilitate the transportation of dried and fresh fruit from Kabul at a reasonable price.”
Abdullah said the Afghan national unity government is open to talks with the Taliban, telling Arab News: “We want a dignified peace, and the group that wants to talk to us should give up links with terror networks, work for their own country and contribute to the wellbeing of our people. This is our hope, and based on that we’ve kept the door open for talks and negotiations.”
Ahmad, accompanying Abdullah, said: “Instability isn’t going away from Afghanistan anytime soon, and we have to find ways to live a life and carry on with our business.”


New virus cases in China fall for 2nd day, deaths top 2,000

In this picture taken on February 14, 2020, a Malaysia Airlines hostess (R) wearing a protective face mask checks the temperature of a Chinese passenger before she boards a flight to Beijing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 58 sec ago

New virus cases in China fall for 2nd day, deaths top 2,000

  • China may postpone its biggest political meeting of the year, the annual congress due to start in March, to avoid having people travel to Beijing while the virus is still spreading

BEIJING: New virus cases in China continued to fall Wednesday, with 1,749 new infections and 136 new deaths announced after China’s leader said disease prevention and control was at “a critical time.”
The much-criticized quarantine of a cruise ship in Japan to avoid spreading the virus ends later in the day. The 542 cases on the ship were the most in any place outside of China and medical experts have called the quarantine a failure.
The updated figures on the COVID-19 illness for mainland China bring the total for cases to 74,185 and deaths to 2,004. New cases have fallen to under 2,000 daily for the past two days.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the efforts to control the outbreak in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described in state media.
Separately, the UN secretary-general told The Associated Press that the virus outbreak “is not out of control but it is a very dangerous situation.” Antonio Guterres said in an interview in Lahore, Pakistan, that “the risks are enormous and we need to be prepared worldwide for that.”
China has locked down several cities in central Hubei province where the outbreak hit hardest, halting nearly all transportation and movement except for the quarantine efforts, medical care and delivery of food and basic necessities.
China also may postpone its biggest political meeting of the year, the annual congress due to start in March, to avoid having people travel to Beijing while the virus is still spreading. One of the automotive industry’s biggest events, China’s biannual auto show, was postponed, and many sports and entertainment events have been delayed or canceled.
Many countries set up border screenings and airlines canceled flights to and from China to prevent further spread of the disease, which has been detected in around two dozen countries and caused almost 1,000 confirmed cases outside mainland China. Five deaths have been reported outside the mainland, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France.
The largest number of cases outside China is the 542 on the Diamond Princess at a port near Tokyo.
South Korea evacuated six South Koreans and a Japanese family member from the ship, and they began an additional 14-day quarantine Wednesday. More than 300 American passengers were evacuated earlier and are quarantined in the United States, including at least 14 who had tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, the US government said the more than 100 American passengers who stayed on the ship or were hospitalized in Japan would have to wait for another two weeks before they could return to the US
The US also upgraded its travel advisory for China to Level 4, telling its citizens not to travel to anywhere in the country and advising those currently in China to attempt to depart by commercial means.
“In the event that the situation further deteriorates, the ability of the US Embassy and Consulates to provide assistance to US nationals within China may be limited. The United States is not offering chartered evacuation flights from China,” the notice said.
“We strongly urge US citizens remaining in China to stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others, including large gatherings. Consider stocking up on food and other supplies to limit movement outside the home,” the notice said. The US previously flew out scores of its citizens on charter flights from Wuhan but does not have any further plans to do so, it said.
Despite, such warnings, the capital Beijing was showing signs of coming back to life this week, with road traffic at around a quarter of usual up from virtually nothing a week ago. While most restaurants, stores and office buildings remained closed, others had reopened. People entering were required to have their temperatures taken and register their contact information.