Slovakia to reopen shopping malls, schools as coronavirus cases slow

An employee checks the temperature of another employee on arrival to work as PSA Peugeot re-opens after shutting down last month due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Trnava, Slovakia April 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 May 2020

Slovakia to reopen shopping malls, schools as coronavirus cases slow

  • The central European country will also reopen kindergartens and the first five grades of elementary schools

BRATISLAVA: Slovakia will reopen shopping malls, theaters and cinemas as of Wednesday, under strict hygienic conditions, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Monday.
The central European country, which has had far fewer cases of the new coronavirus than most Western European nations, will also reopen kindergartens and the first five grades of elementary schools from June 1, Matovic told a news conference.


Afghan assembly approves release of 400 ‘hard-core’ Taliban prisoners

Updated 2 min 46 sec ago

Afghan assembly approves release of 400 ‘hard-core’ Taliban prisoners

  • Some 3,200 Afghan community leaders and politicians gathered to advise the government on whether the prisoners should be freed

KABUL: Afghanistan’s grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, on Sunday approved the release of 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for the beginning of peace talks aimed at ending more than 19 years of war.
“In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban,” the assembly said in a resolution.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had convened the assembly in the capital Kabul, where some 3,200 Afghan community leaders and politicians gathered amid tight security and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic to advise the government on whether the prisoners should be freed.
The Taliban militants had insisted they be released as a condition for entering peace talks with the government. With the release, the Afghan government will fulfil its pledge to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
Western diplomats said talks between the warring parties will start in Doha this week.
Deliberation around the release of last batch of Taliban prisoners, accused of conducting some of the bloodiest attacks across Afghanistan, had triggered outrage among civilians and rights groups who questioned the morality of the peace process.
But ahead of November elections, US President Donald Trump is determined to fulfil a major campaign promise of ending America’s longest war.
The drawdown will bring the number of US troops to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.
In a February pact allowing for the withdrawal of US troops, Washington and the Taliban agreed on the release of the Taliban prisoners as a condition for the talks with Kabul.