TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:05:20 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Israel Reopens Al-Aqsa Mosque Ahead of Muslim Prayers http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16947-israel-reopens-al-aqsa-mosque-ahead-of-muslim-prayers

Israel reopened Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound Friday ahead of the weekly Muslim prayers, after a rare closure following clashes sparked by the killing of a Palestinian by police.

The streets of east Jerusalem were calm ahead of the prayers at midday, following an Israeli clampdown on the shrine, which is holy for Muslims and Jews alike.

Clashes erupted when Israeli police on Wednesday night shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner.

The closure was the first for decades and prompted a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to condemn the move as an Israeli "declaration of war".

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that because of fears of unrest at the midday prayers, entry for Muslim men would be restricted to those over 50.

Additional police were deployed around the Al-Aqsa compound in the heart of the Old City, with local media reporting the presence of some 3,000 officers, three times more than usual.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound -- known to Jews as the Temple Mount -- is the third holiest site in Islam and Judaism's holiest.

The clashes subsided late Thursday with a few sporadic confrontations between stone-throwing Palestinians and police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Three Palestinians were arrested, Samri said.

The funeral of the Palestinian passed off without incident, she added.

Jerusalem has been shaken by months of unrest sparked by the murder of a Palestinian teenager in July in revenge for the killings of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank.

A 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in July and August intensified protests and clashes in the Holy City.

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Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:07:35 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16947-israel-reopens-al-aqsa-mosque-ahead-of-muslim-prayers
First 100 Days: Heart of Asia Conference http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16946-first-100-days-heart-of-asia-conference

What was the main reason behind President Ghani's trip to China, and why was the Heart of Asia Conference held in China? What is the motive behind the Heart of Asia Conference and why was it created? What is Afghanistan's role in this process and what will Afghanistan take from it?

Host Omid Farooq discusses the questions with the following guests:

Roya Rahmani Head of Regional Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Fardi Hashemi University Professor

Mujtaba Patang Former Minister of Interior Affairs

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:46:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16946-first-100-days-heart-of-asia-conference
TAWDE KHABARE: Fighting Against Drugs in Afghanistan http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16945-tawde-khabare-fighting-against-drugs-in-afghanistan

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has said that the Counter Narcotics Police was created with heavy expense in Afghanistan, but the provincial units lack financial resources and security for their operations and continuation of their operations.

Host Zabi Sadat, discusses the issue with the following guests:

Ibrahim Azhar Minister of Counter Narcotics

Hashem Wahdat Yar UNODC

Jabar Qahraman House of Representatives Member

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:16:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16945-tawde-khabare-fighting-against-drugs-in-afghanistan
TOLOnews 6pm News 30 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16944-tolonews-6pm-news-30-october-2014

Afghanistan is the worst country for investments in Asia, and the seventh worst in the entire world, according to a report recently published by the World Bank.

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The report comes just as the new, more inclusive government in Kabul has made promises for reform and economic growth, but also in the wake of a tumultuous political transition and an intense summer fighting season, and just a couple months ahead of the NATO coalition withdraw.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:42:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16944-tolonews-6pm-news-30-october-2014
Afghan Forces Clash With Militants in Nine Provinces http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16943-afghan-forces-clash-with-militants-in-nine-provinces

Across nine provinces, Afghan security forces clashed with militants, and according to the Ministry of Interior (MoI), in the past 24 hours alone, 42 insurgents been killed and 51 wounded.

Officials confirmed the arrests of 10 other fighters, as well as the deaths of eight members of the Afghan National Police (ANP).

Insurgent violence has increased in many parts of the country, just as the new national unity government heads into its third month in office and then not long after the withdraw of foreign troops.

On Thursday, serious clashes occurred between Afghan forces and insurgents in Badakhshan, Kunduz, Kandahar, Ghazni, Paktia, Ghoar and Faryab provinces.

In northern Badakhshan, the Afghan military was forced to abandon an attempt to rescue soldiers that had been captured by anti-government fighters.

"Due to the bad climate in Badakhshan province, we stopped the military operation, but we strive to release the captured soldiers from the insurgents," said Lal Muhammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for the Badakhshan Police Chief.

The Interior Ministry maintains that the uptick in militant activity around the country is related to foreign terrorist networks and intelligence services.

"Networks from abroad support the insurgents and send them to Afghanistan," Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

Since the election crisis came to an end and the national unity government presided over by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah took power, many have voiced renewed hope for the future of the country. However, the recent wave of insurgent violence across the country has posed a major threat to that sense of optimism.

"It is very important that the government of Afghanistan renew the security strategy of Afghanistan and hire fresh people in the security departments of the Ministry of Interior and make clear their plans against the insurgents and Taliban, if these things are not carried out, we will achieve nothing," military analyst Jawid Kohistani told TOLOnews.

Many analysts say the key to peace is not in fact the Afghan government, but rather the authorities across the border in Pakistan. During his term, former President Karzai took more than 20 official visits to Islamabad in hopes of improving relations between the nations and forging a path to peace, but all fell short.

Still, there is hope that with a fresh start may be exactly what is needed to jumpstart peace talks, and with the NATO coalition drawing down, it couldn't come at a better time.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:28:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16943-afghan-forces-clash-with-militants-in-nine-provinces
Government Doesn't Have Exact Trade Figures http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16942-government-doesnt-have-exact-trade-figures

Reports indicate that trade figures provided by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MoEC) and the Office of Central Statistics indicate a difference of about one billion dollars.

TOLOnews was not successful in attaining proper details of the Afghanistan-Pakistan trade relations.

The Ministry of Trade refrained from giving any information and the the Office of Central Statistics and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries provided statistics with a one billion dollar disparity.

The former gave a figure of two billion two hundred fifty four million dollars, while the latter gave a figure of one billion two hundred seven million dollars.

Custom offices are responsible for recording figures of annual exports and imports; however, the officials of customs in Nangarhar province [through which most transactions with Pakistan take place] have said that they do not know the exact figures, claiming that collecting the figures is not their responsibility.

"Providing information about trade value and import from Pakistan is not our duty," deputy of provincial customs office, Gardiwal, said.

Officials of Spin Boldak customs, did not provide exact information about the figures either.

They stated, however, that incomes have increased.

"Goods that spoil fast are exported to Afghanistan through this way [Spin Boldak].

That's why our income has increased," one of the officials, Abdul Wasay Roady, said.

It is said that many of the exported goods are not recorded in customs offices.

"The problem is that some of the export goods are not recorded in some areas like Paktia province," an official at the Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mir Zaman Popal, said.

Lack of exact information regarding trade with neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, is said to indicate high-scale corruption in customs departments.

While the new government has pledged commitment to fighting against corruption, doubts remain about its ability to do so any time soon.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:12:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16942-government-doesnt-have-exact-trade-figures
World Bank Labels Afghanistan Worst Country for Investment in Asia http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16941-world-bank-labels-afghanistan-worst-country-for-investment-in-asia

Afghanistan is the worst country for investments in Asia, and the seventh worst in the entire world, according to a report recently published by the World Bank.

The report comes just as the new, more inclusive government in Kabul has made promises for reform and economic growth, but also in the wake of a tumultuous political transition and an intense summer fighting season, and just a couple months ahead of the NATO coalition withdraw.

It is no surprise then that the report cites security threats, corruption, lack of reform and declining international aid as some of the most fundamental factors behind Afghanistan's fragile investment climate.

Last year, Afghanistan was ranked 182 out of 185 countries evaluated by the World Bank for investment potential.

But this year’s report saw the country drop to 183 as the number of countries evaluated expanded to 189.

Meanwhile, Singapore was labeled the top investment-friendly country in the world for the ninth consecutive year.

This year’s report applauds the international community for its contributions and support to Afghanistan over the past decade when it comes to attracting investments.

But it states that, despite the extensive cooperation, Afghanistan’s investment environment remains relatively inhospitable.

The Afghanistan Investment Supporting Agency (AISA) has responded to the report, and did not dispute its findings.

“I think the reason was political instability, security problems and the Afghan elections, which were beyond the capabilities of the government offices,” AISA Chairman Wafiullah Iftikhari said.
 
The World Bank report evaluates a number of key indicators in each country, including, construction licensing, access to energy and bank loans, property registration, small business support, international trade ties and contract law.

According to the report, Afghanistan is inadequate in most of these areas.
 
“Yes, Afghanistan is a tough environment for investment, in addition to insecurity, there is a lack of access to loans and other problems, there is corruption in the municipality and other administrations,” Harakat Director Sadaf Dashti told TOLOnews.

"AISA license, that was an achievement, but its extension has turned into an obstacle, and is very expensive.”

Economic experts have said that World Bank report makes it clear Afghanistan will not be able to attract international investment anytime in the near future unless the government take initiative and implements the necessary reforms in accordance to international standards.

Nevertheless, many are optimistic about the new national unity government’s plans for the economy, after all, President Ashraf Ghani was once a top economist for the World Bank. 

Afghanistan is the worst country for investments in Asia, and the seventh worst in the entire world, according to a report recently published by the World Bank.

The report comes just as the new, more inclusive government in Kabul has made promises for reform and economic growth, but also in the wake of a tumultuous political transition and an intense summer fighting season, and just a couple months ahead of the NATO coalition withdraw.

It is no surprise then that the report cites security threats, corruption, lack of reform and declining international aid as some of the most fundamental factors behind Afghanistan's fragile investment climate.

Last year, Afghanistan was ranked 182 out of 185 countries evaluated by the World Bank for investment potential.

But this year's report saw the country drop to 183 as the number of countries evaluated expanded to 189.

Meanwhile, Singapore was labeled the top investment-friendly country in the world for the ninth consecutive year.

This year's report applauds the international community for its contributions and support to Afghanistan over the past decade when it comes to attracting investments.

But it states that, despite the extensive cooperation, Afghanistan's investment environment remains relatively inhospitable.

The Afghanistan Investment Supporting Agency (AISA) has responded to the report, and did not dispute its findings.

"I think the reason was political instability, security problems and the Afghan elections, which were beyond the capabilities of the government offices," AISA Chairman Wafiullah Iftikhari said.

The World Bank report evaluates a number of key indicators in each country, including, construction licensing, access to energy and bank loans, property registration, small business support, international trade ties and contract law.

According to the report, Afghanistan is inadequate in most of these areas.

"Yes, Afghanistan is a tough environment for investment, in addition to insecurity, there is a lack of access to loans and other problems, there is corruption in the municipality and other administrations," Harakat Director Sadaf Dashti told TOLOnews.

"AISA license, that was an achievement, but its extension has turned into an obstacle, and is very expensive."

Economic experts have said that World Bank report makes it clear Afghanistan will not be able to attract international investment anytime in the near future unless the government take initiative and implements the necessary reforms in accordance to international standards.

Nevertheless, many are optimistic about the new national unity government's plans for the economy, after all, President Ashraf Ghani was once a top economist for the World Bank.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:46:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16941-world-bank-labels-afghanistan-worst-country-for-investment-in-asia
Trial Committee Faces Time Crunch on Kabul Bank Case http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16940-trial-committee-faces-time-crunch-on-kabul-bank-case

With just 14 days remaining before the expiration of President Ashraf Ghani's deadline for the Kabul Bank case to be resolved, the Supreme Court has only just assigned a five person trial committee to review the case.

Officials at the Supreme Court have indicated they will likely need more time than has been allotted by President Ghani, who ordered the Kabul Bank case be reopened within the first two weeks of his presidency back in September.

According to the court, there are up to 40 different individual cases wrapped up in the larger prosecution that the president has called for.

While some have praised Ghani for his early initiative against corruption, as well as his strict deadlines, some have warned that putting so much pressure on the judiciary could undermine the integrity of the justice served.

"Setting a deadline is not good because it increases the pressures to assess the Kabul Bank cases fast, but it is better to preserve justice," said MP Mohammad Abda, the head of Parliament's Judicial Affairs Committee.

Another factor that is likely to cause a delay in the proceedings around the Kabul Bank cases is the fact that some of the prime suspects remain on the run, even outside the country.

On Thursday, MPs stressed the importance of bringing the fugitives to justice and arresting those who were involved in the bank scandal but remain employed by the government.

"You know that some who are involved in the Kabul bank crisis presently work with the Chief Executive and President; if the government intends to fight against corruption, it should inspect the people currently working in the government," MP Muhammad Raza Khushak Watan dost said.

The Kabul Bank faced a depositor panic back in 2010 when it was revealed that over 900 million USD had been embezzled by top executives at the bank. According to the Attorney General's office, only 226 million USD has been recovered.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:12:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16940-trial-committee-faces-time-crunch-on-kabul-bank-case
FARAKHABAR: 29 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16938-farakhabar-29-october-2014

A number of legislators have called on banning the officials of election management bodies from leaving the country as the final results of provincial councils elections face further criticism.

The MPs have called some of the commission members "opportunists," claiming that many of the provincial council candidates became victorious on the basis of political ties.

How can the government resolve the tensions pertaining the electoral bodies?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Raifullah Gul Afghan: One of the protesting candidates
• Assadullah Saadati: MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 03:09:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16938-farakhabar-29-october-2014
First 100 Days: The New Government's 31st Working Day http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16937-first-100-days-the-new-governments-31st-working-day

First Part:

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses the recent works of the chief and chief executive of the National Unity Government, as well as President Ashraf Ghani's recent speech at Xinhua University in Beijing on Wednesday about the importance of regional cooperation and his plans to build a thriving Afghan economy.

Syed Ismail Jahangir: Journalist

Second Part:

Agreements between Afghan and Chinese Officials

The economic and technical cooperation agreement was signed between the Afghan acting Minister of Finance Omar Zakhelwal and his Chinese counterpart.

Syed Massoud: University Lecturer

Muzammil Shinwari: Deputy Minister of Finance for Trade and industry

Third Part:

Government's Commitment to Fight Against Corruption

The one month timeframe President Ashraf Ghani gave during his inauguration to the Supreme Court to enact reforms and curtail corruption has already passed. According to the newly appointed Chief Justice Abdul Rashed Rashid, the process of change is well underway.

Fawzia Kofi: MP

To watch the program, Click here:

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 03:08:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16937-first-100-days-the-new-governments-31st-working-day
TAWDE KHABARE: Role of Regional Countries in the Peace Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16936-tawde-khabare-role-of-regional-countries-in-the-peace-process

What is the determining factor in the peace process between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban? What are the roles of regional countries such as Arabic states and China in the peace talks? Does Pakistan use Taliban as a tool to reach its objectives in Afghanistan?

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shahpor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Moeen Marasyal: Political Analyst

• Ghrzai Khawkhogi: Military Analyst

• Jawed Kohistani: Military Analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:54:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16936-tawde-khabare-role-of-regional-countries-in-the-peace-process
Iran Wants Sanctions Lifted Before Nuclear Deal http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16935-iran-wants-sanctions-lifted-before-nuclear-deal

Iran wants all Western sanctions to be lifted before striking a deal on its contested nuclear programme by a November deadline, a top official said Wednesday.

The announcement came amid intensifying efforts to conclude a definitive pact. The six powers in the talks with Iran -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1 -- have set November 24 as the deadline.

The chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions was "unacceptable."

"If we want a definitive accord on November 24, there must be an immediate lifting of sanctions," he told a news conference in Paris.

A Western diplomat close to the negotiations with Iran on Monday said a firm deal by the deadline was highly unlikely, saying Tehran would have to make "significant gestures."

The aim is to close avenues towards Tehran ever developing an atomic bomb, by cutting back its enrichment programme, shutting down suspect facilities and imposing tough international inspections.

In return, the global community would suspend and then gradually lift crippling economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

But the two sides, despite long-running talks, remain far apart on how to reconcile their objectives.

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:43:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16935-iran-wants-sanctions-lifted-before-nuclear-deal
Supreme Court Announces Special Kabul Bank Trial http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16934-supreme-court-announces-special-kabul-bank-trial

The Afghan Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will hold a special trial for the Kabul Bank case in the coming weeks, overriding a previous decision by an appeals court in Kabul to reject the case.

The Attorney General's office, which has spearheaded the reopening of the infamous corruption case by order of President Ashraf Ghani, turned to the highest court in the country after the appellate court said there were problems with the case.

The decision by the Supreme Court to hold a special trial was welcomed by Basir Azizi, the Attorney General's spokesman. "The special trial will speed up the case and the court has the legal authority to take action to evaluate the case," Aziz said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Supreme Court said that the Kabul Bank case, which involves a number of prominent Afghan bankers and officials along with the embezzlement of over 900 million USD, is a top priority for the Court.

"The decision we made was the result of the meetings and we have the details and I will present the details of the meetings to the president when appropriate," Chief Justice Abdul Rashid Rashid said.

President Ashraf Ghani, setting the tone for his new administration early on, gave the Attorney General's office a month and a half to get the case prosecuted. But already over three weeks have passed and a number of the men accused of involvement in the corruption scandal have not yet been arrested and no court hearing has been held.

"We hope that something will be done in the coming fifteen days, the court meetings will be held, the escapers will be arrested and the men that the ministries vouched for will be presented to the court," Basir Azizi said.

The head of the Milli Bank and the New Kabul Bank were both able to flee the country under the pretense of official leave immediately following President Ghani's decree reopening the case against them. The two men were allowed to leave the country based on guarantees provided by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank.

The Attorney General's office has called on the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank to get the accused back to Afghanistan, but to no avail. The men have been warned that if they do not show in court, then a ruling will be issued in their absence.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:18:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16934-supreme-court-announces-special-kabul-bank-trial
TOLOnews 6pm News 29 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16933-tolonews-6pm-news-29-october-2014 Top news in this bulletin:

The Afghan Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will hold a special trial for the Kabul Bank case in the coming weeks, overriding a previous decision by an appeals court in Kabul to reject the case.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

{youtube}JPgBMQSrM1E{/youtube}

A number of MPs have expressed apprehensions about the recent security situation, saying that the number of suicide attacks, explosions and rockets has increased--even in the capital--during the first month of the National Unity Government (NUG).

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:10:35 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16933-tolonews-6pm-news-29-october-2014
Afghanistan Ready to Construct Wakhan-China Road: MoPW http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16932-afghanistan-ready-to-construct-wakhan-china-road-mopw

In response to President Ashraf Ghani's call for a direct land link from Afghanistan to the Republic of China, the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) has said Afghanistan is ready to coordinate with China on the construction of the road, which will follow the ancient Silk Road trading route. 

The highway will link the Xinjiang state of China with Badkhshan's Wakhan district, passing through the mountains of Guzar Wakhan through to the Anjuman Pass of Panjshir province and then on to centeral Afghanistan.

According to the MoPW, the construction will be expensive, but will be possible with China's contribution. "We are ready to construct the highway in joint effort with China," MoPW spokesman Sohail Kakar said.

Officials of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, too, stress that the road's construction will take less time considering China's technological developments.

Economists believe that the construction of Wakhan-China route will increase trade between the two countries and decrease the expenses of import and export transportation, as well as improving Afghanistan's trade relations with Europe and the rest of Asia.

The area's mountainous nature and harsh winters as well as the need to dig many tunnels are said to be some of the challenges on the way of the road's construction.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:06:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16932-afghanistan-ready-to-construct-wakhan-china-road-mopw
Ghani Delivers Speech in Beijing on Silk Road, Regional Cooperation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16931-ghani-delivers-speech-in-beijing-on-silk-road-regional-cooperation

Delivering a speech at Xinhua University in Beijing on Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and his plans to build a thriving Afghan economy.

The speaking event was organized as part of the president's trip to China, his first official trip abroad since taking office. The visit included meetings with top Chinese officials to discuss trade and economic cooperation as well as security issues with the Taliban and Pakistan.

"We have to move out of thinking along national boundaries to continental and international cooperation; in the second decade of the 21st century, state-to-state conflict is a lose-lose proposition, the only way forward is cooperative advantage," President Ghani said. "Cooperation can have very, very significant advantages while conflict can have many, many disadvantages."

In his speech, Ghani spoke about rebuilding the Silk Road trade route that was the main highway for Asian trade for thousands of years, passing from China through Central and South Asia into the Middle East and Mediterranean region.

"China is a strategic partner for us on multiple levels, this trip is based on that previous foundation, but it's about deepening and broadening of this relationship, making the new silk road happen," Ghani said.

With the U.S. and its NATO coalition set to withdraw by the end of the year, Ghani's choice for his first official trip as president to be to China could signal the intention of broadening Afghanistan's alliances and sources of aid in its own region. In his speech at Xinhua University, Ghani stressed that Afghanistan was ready to cooperate with everyone.

"Our image of Afghanistan is that we are for cooperation with everybody, because our future - lifting from poverty to prosperity - requires cooperation," Ghani said. "But the mentality must change to see Afghanistan as the center of new economic activity."

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:52:36 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16931-ghani-delivers-speech-in-beijing-on-silk-road-regional-cooperation
Supreme Court Claims Headway Made As Ghani's Deadline for Reform Passes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16930-supreme-court-claims-headway-made-as-ghanis-deadline-for-reform-passes

The one month timeframe President Ashraf Ghani gave during his inauguration to the Supreme Court to enact reforms and curtail corruption has come and gone. And according to newly appointed Chief Justice Abdul Rashid Rashid, the process of change is well underway.

In exclusive interview with TOLOnews, Chief Justice Rashid discussed the efforts that have been made since the inauguration of the national unity government to bring reform to the Afghan judiciary.

"I can say with full confidence that I will emerge as a barrier to any mistakes and violations that might happen at the Supreme Court," he said. Citing the initiation of a special trial for the Kabul Bank case, a top priority of the Ghani administration early on, and efforts to rid the court system of corruption, the Chief Justice assured that concerted steps were being taken.

So far, nearly 200 judges and another 600 employees in the judiciary have been fired on account of allegations that they abused the powers of their office and/or took bribes. But considering the judicial system is considered the most corrupt public institution in Afghanistan, according to a survey conducted by Transparency International in 2013, it will likely take more than just that to satisfy Ghani's call for reform.

Rashid, for his part, assured the integrity of his work. "I will accomplish my job in a just manner, I will be the judge of the people and loyal to the law and will be frank and will decide on any case according to the spirit of the law and will maintain justice," he told TOLOnews.

With the NATO coalition set to withdraw by the end of the year, fears that Afghanistan has become debilitated by international aid-fueled corruption have compounded those of a Taliban resurgence. But the national unity government's early campaign against corruption has been welcomed by many politicians and experts.

"We have evidences of that a number of bribers are fearful only because of one announcement and they no longer ask for bribes," political analyst Najla Ayoubi told TOLOnews.

"If the presidential order is not implemented and reforms aren't brought it will hurt public trust, but I am confident that the president will follow up on the issue according to his order," analyst Tahir Hashimi said.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:15:43 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16930-supreme-court-claims-headway-made-as-ghanis-deadline-for-reform-passes
Security Deteriorating in the Past Month http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16928-security-deteriorating-in-the-past-month

A number of MPs have expressed apprehensions about the recent security situation, saying that the number of suicide attacks, explosions and rockets has increased--even in the capital--during the first month of the National Unity Government (NUG).

"The security situation is terrible and intolerable," Sadiqi Ahmadi Usmani, first deputy speaker, said.

Ghor MP Sayad Nadir Sha Bahar added that, "people's security concerns have increased" and that "security gets worse every day."

President Ashraf Ghani, on his first day at office, asked security departments to accelerate efforts in maintaining security around the country, especially in the capital.

"We need a clear and coordinated strategy to maintain security in Kabul and neighboring provinces," the president had stressed, adding that Kabul's security is important for overall security.

In the past month, Kabul witnessed six suicide attacks, two roadside bombs explosions and two rockets fired in areas near the Presidential Palace. Based on the figures reported from the incidents, 27 people have been killed in Kabul in the past 29 days.

Kabul residents are furious over the reports and ask the NUG to address their concerns.

"We expected the security to improve after NUG, but unfortunately it has become worse," Kabul resident Maryam said.

TOLO news was not able to get the response of Kabul police in regard to the issue.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:37:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16928-security-deteriorating-in-the-past-month
Heavy-load Trucks Illegally Commute on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway: MoPW http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16927-heavy-load-trucks-illegally-commute-on-kabul-jalalabad-highway-mopw

The Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) on Wednesday reported that local officials in the eastern province of Nangarhar deliberately avoid to issue fines for heavy-load trucks commuting on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway.

"According to our statistics, most trucks that commute on the highway carry unauthorized weights," MoPW spokesman Mohammad Suhail Kakar said. "The provincial authorities have not implemented the new policy of issuing fines."

In response to the allegation, spokesman to Nangarhar governor, Ahmadzia Abdulzai, stated that the provincial government has adopted another initiative to curb corruption.

"We are not certain that the new procedure introduced by the MoPW will be successful; therefore, we have taken the initiative to ban weighing the vehicles in order to curb corruption," he said.

Recent reports indicate that many parts of the highway have been badly damaged due to the heavy traffic of high tonnage lorries and trucks commuting through the route.

The heavy-load vehicles are said to have left extremely negative impacts on the highway, including increasing the number of traffic accidents.

"The road is in a catastrophic condition," a driver on the highway said. "Tens of accidents happen here on a daily basis."

The issue is especially alarming because more than 50 percent of the country's imports come through the same route.

The kabul-Jalaabad highway was built with $115 million in 2007. It is one of the busiest highways in the country and holds much significance for the country's economy, in addition to being the only way to connect the capital to eastern provinces as well the Torkham border.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:15:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16927-heavy-load-trucks-illegally-commute-on-kabul-jalalabad-highway-mopw
Candidate Closes Ghorband-Bamyan Road http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16926-candidate-closes-ghorband-bamyan-road

The Ghorband-Bamyan road in Franjal area of Parwan province is closed to traffic by Wakil Samad, one of the protesting candidates from the provincial council elections, and his supporters. The candidate has reportedly blocked the road as a reaction to the announcement of the final results of the provincial council elections.

People travelling through the route have contacted TOLOnews to raise concerns over the issue. Spokesman to Parwan governor Wahid Siddiqi has stated that police are trying to reopen the road soon.

Meanwhile, a number of Herat candidates gathered on the same day to demand that the members of the electoral commissions be brought to justice.

Expressing anger over the alleged fraud in the elections, the protesters came together in a tent in front of the provincial governor's office. The protests have led to many roads being closed to traffic.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the final results of the provincial council elections after over four and a half months delay last week, with 458 individuals—97 women--winning seats in provincial councils around the country. A week later, a number of provincial council candidates took part in a protest in Kabul on Tuesday morning, asking for the trial of members of election commissions over alleged massive frauds in the election process.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:49:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16926-candidate-closes-ghorband-bamyan-road
33 Insurgents Killed in Warduj http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16925-33-insurgents-killed-in-warduj

According to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the Badakhshan police chief, more than 33 Taliban, including foreigners, have been killed in ongoing clashes between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the Taliban in Warduj district of Badakhshan province. Ahmadzai asserted that the ANSF have destroyed all insurgent safe-havens in the district.

More than 300 Taliban insurgents attacked police outposts in Warduj earlier this week, killing four policemen and taking few others captive. Additional troops were deployed to the area for support and backup.

Meanwhile, Badakhshan's neighboring province, Kunduz, also witnessed major clashes between the Taliban and the ANSF on Monday of the same week. According to reports, the Taliban have taken control of 30 villages in Kunduz, including Gor Tapa and Imam Saheb.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks on Warduj, saying that a number of ANSF soldiers have been killed in the attack.

The insurgents have increased their attacks recently, targeting Afghan military outposts in Nangahar, Kunar, Ghor, Logar, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Helmand provinces.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:51:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16925-33-insurgents-killed-in-warduj
FARAKHABAR: 28 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16924-farakhabar-28-october-2014

In a recent report, the U.S. senate committee has recommended that post-2014 foreign aids to Afghanistan should be conditional on transparency as well as implementation of necessary reforms and maintaining human rights.

Will the National Unity Government succeed in meeting these criteria?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Dawoud Kalakani, MP

Moeen Marastyal, Deputy Head of the Rights and Justice Party

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 03:21:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16924-farakhabar-28-october-2014
First 100 Days: U.S Senators Push for Conditional Aids to Afghanistan Post-2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16923-first-100-days-us-senators-push-for-conditional-aids-to-afghanistan-post-2014

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses the U.S. senate's demand on conditional post-2014 aids to Afghanistan as well as President Ashraf Ghani's meeting with officials of private and public construction companies, with the following guests:

Akbar Rustami, Reporter

Wafiullah Eftekhar, Head of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA)

Naeem Yasin, Head of Construction Companies Union

Qurban Haqjo, Economic Affairs Analyst

Mustafa Mastor, Deputy Minister of Finance

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 03:18:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16923-first-100-days-us-senators-push-for-conditional-aids-to-afghanistan-post-2014
TAWDE KHABARE: Security Situation in the Northeast http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16922-tawde-khabare-security-situation-in-the-northeast

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have surrounded the Taliban insurgents in Warduj district of north-eastern Badakhshan province. Fifteen Taliban insurgents, including foreigners, have been killed in the on-going attacks, local officials said.

More than 300 Taliban insurgents attacked police outposts in Warduj earlier this week, killing four policemen and taking few others captive, according Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the Badakhshan police chief. Ahmadzai reported that additional troops have been deployed to the area to free the ANSF soldiers taken captive by the Taliban insurgents.

Meanwhile, Badakhshan's neighboring province, Kunduz, also witnessed major clashes between the Taliban and the ANSF on Monday. According to reports, the Taliban have taken control of 30 villages in Kunduz, including Gor Tapa and Imam Saheb.

The Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks recently, targeting Afghan military outposts in Nangahar, Kunar, Ghor, Logar, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Helmand provinces.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabiullah Sadaat discuses the issue with the following guests:

• Omer Sapai, Military Analyst

• Hamidullah Hotak, Kunduz Tribal Elder

• Gen. Baba Jan, Badakhshan Police Chief

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 03:07:09 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16922-tawde-khabare-security-situation-in-the-northeast
Orbital Rocket Explodes After Launch http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16921-orbital-rocket-explodes-after-launch

An unmanned rocket owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation exploded Tuesday in a giant fireball and plummeted back to Earth just seconds after launch on what was to be a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

"The Antares rocket suffered an accident shortly after lift-off," NASA mission control in Houston said, describing the event as a "catastrophic anomaly."

After the countdown, the base of the tall, white rocket ignited on cue, then rose a short distance into the air before it suddenly exploded in a fiery blast six seconds later.

Enveloped in flames, the rocket collapsed to the ground, as a cloud of dark gray smoke rose from the wreckage.

Investigators swiftly secured the perimeter of the area and forbade any outside interviews of witnesses or staff, citing classified equipment that had been aboard the spacecraft.

As night fell, fires were seen burning at the coastal launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia where waves lapped at the shore.

It was unclear what caused the explosion, which occurred at 6:22 pm (2222 GMT).

"At this point it appears that the damage is limited to the facility," a commentator on NASA television said.

All personnel in the area were accounted for, and there were no injuries, the US space agency said.

There was, however significant property damage.

The accident occurred just after Orbital's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship blasted off toward ISS carrying 5,000 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of supplies for the six astronauts living at the research outpost.

It was the first nighttime launch of an Antares rocket, Orbital said.

Engineers said the countdown had gone smoothly, and there were no issues apparent with the machinery.

The mission, known as CRS-3, was to be Orbital's fourth trip to the ISS, including an initial demonstration.

On NASA television, a man identified as Orbital executive vice president Frank Culbertson told his team to be as professional in this process as they are in a countdown, and urged them not to talk to the press.

"When we understand what happened, hopefully soon, then we will get things back on track," Culbertson could be heard saying to staff on the radio.

"We have all seen this happen in our business before, and we have all seen our teams recover from this," he said.

"Like I said, be very judicious about talking about it even amongst yourselves, in terms of speculation. Definitely do not talk outside our family."

Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA for a total of eight supply missions.

The Cygnus craft, which is shaped like a massive beer keg, was to have remained berthed at the ISS for about five weeks.

After the US space shuttle program ended in 2011, leaving no government program to send humans to the space station, private companies raced to restore US access.

SpaceX's Dragon was the first commercial spacecraft to make a supply journey there in 2010.

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Wed, 29 Oct 2014 02:41:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16921-orbital-rocket-explodes-after-launch
TOLOnews 6pm News 28 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16920-tolonews-6pm-news-28-october-2014 Top news in this Bulletin:

Afghan and Chinese government officials signed four agreements this week, addressing trade and commerce relations, bilateral economic ties, humanitarian aid and travel permits for public servants.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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A group of upper and lower house representatives in Parliament have demanded that members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) be barred from leaving the country before they are held to account for the problems faced during this year's election. Some representatives have said outright that members of the commission should be prosecuted.

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:41:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16920-tolonews-6pm-news-28-october-2014
Representatives Call for Prosecution of IEC Officials http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16919-representatives-call-for-prosecution-of-iec-officials

A group of upper and lower house representatives in Parliament have demanded that members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) be barred from leaving the country before they are held to account for the problems faced during this year's election. Some representatives have said outright that members of the commission should be prosecuted.

The calls from Parliament come over a month after the presidential election ended and less than a week since the conclusion of the provincial council contests. However, momentum has steadily built around those demanding the election commissions be reformed and held accountable for the malfeasance observed and documented during the elections.

Meanwhile, IEC Chief Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani has agreed to accept any necessary reforms to the election commission, but stressed that they not be politically-motivated. "We are prepared to implement reforms in the election commission, I have fought for reforms, but the reforms must be on the basis of the Constitution," Nuristani said.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah was originally the most high-profile and adamant proponent of reforming the election commissions, having been the chief critic of their performance during the election process. Yet support for changes in the country's electoral system, after this year's process dragged on for over six months and required an intervention by the United Nations and U.S. diplomats to keep from falling apart, has moved far beyond him.

"To maintain justice and to respect the will of people, we need to bring reforms in the electoral bodies and members of the election management bodies must be introduced to the legal and judicial institutions of the country,"said Bashir Samim, the head of Parliament's Commission for Environmental Affairs.

"The commission led the country to the verge of collapse, therefore members of the commissions must be prosecuted," Maidan Wardak MP Ghulam Hussain Naseri added.

In light of recent events surrounding suspects in the Kabul Bank corruption case, some of which have fled the country to avoid court, MPs demanded that election commission officials be stopped from leaving the country until those responsible for fraud and other problems during the election process face consequences.

"We demand the national unity government ban members of the election commission so that they aren't able to flee the country," Badakhshan MP Abdul Rauf Enami said.

Members of the Senate also called for electoral reform on Tuesday, and questioned why nothing in that vein has happened yet. "In his first days of work, Dr. Abdullah was suggesting implementation of reforms in the electoral bodies, but in recent days, apparently he is silent," Senator Hidayatollah Rahayee said.

A central part of the national unity government agreement that Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani made last month, which finally brought the election process to a peaceful conclusion, was that major reforms be brought to the electoral system. Abdullah, throughout the election process, maintained that he was cheated by election officials. Since the new government has taken office, however, he has quieted those claims.

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:40:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16919-representatives-call-for-prosecution-of-iec-officials
Budget Deficit Already Causing Delays in Salary Payments http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16918-budget-deficit-already-causing-delays-in-salary-payments

The super-scale salaries of at least 56 district governors have not been paid for the past year, according to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). Responsibility for paying the public servants falls with the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, but it is said to not have the financial means to do so.

Highlighting the importance of district governors, who are key to spreading and maintaining the Afghan government's rule of law on the local level, the IDLG said it was unfair and negligent for the Civil Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance to ignore the obligation to pay their employees.

"The Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission stresses that it has no money in the special code and the Ministry of Finance also refuses to pay for the budget," said Khawjah Shafi Sediqi, the head of the IDLG's Finance and Budget Department.

According to protocol, district governors serving in Category A provinces receive 1,000 USD monthly salaries while governors serving in Category B provinces receive 900 USD a month. Governors in Category C provinces receive 800 USD every month.

"It is a fact that a number of district governors who participated in the open competition haven't received their salaries, the budget deficit has been central factor behind the issue," head of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Ahmad Mushahid said.

Budgetary issues were a staple of the last few months of the Hamid Karzai administration, and they have unfortunately rolled over to the new nation unity government. With the NATO coalitions set withdraw in December and international donor funds dwindling, the Afghan government is now forced to reckon with the fact that it has a budget far bigger than it can afford.

"When a district governor receives super scale salary and his counterpart does not pay the salary, it impacts their commitment to work," Khawjah Shafi Mohammad Sediqi further said.

Recognizing the issue, but denying any power to remedy it, the head of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, Ahmad Mushahid, said the presidential palace should do something about the situation.

"The solution is only to pay the salaries from another code of the presidential palace, otherwise, we are unable to pay the super scale salaries from the code with which we pay salaries of teachers and ordinary employees," Mushahid said.

Over a month ago, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) warned the government that the well of available public funds for this year was running dry and that public servant salary payments would be the first to suffer.

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:39:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16918-budget-deficit-already-causing-delays-in-salary-payments
Afghan Govt. Faces Severe Economic Crises http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16917-afghan-govt-faces-severe-economic-crises

Economic analysts have stated that the government's inappropriate expenditures have led to the deficit in the government budget this year.

"There is only one thing that can resolve the shortage of budget and that is to decrease the inappropriate expenses and use a logical economical way to avoid extra costs," Professor of Economics at Kabul University Sayad Masude said.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF), has acknowledged the issue, maintaining, however, that the decrease in national income, the reduction of foreign aids and the decrease of investments in the country are the main causes of the deficit.

"We faced many issues this year. National income decreased, investment was stagnated, international aid did not reach on time and the election process was prolonged; all these issues had negative impacts on the economy," MoF spokesman Abdul Qadir Jilani said. "We request from the international community to provide us with seven million dollars. If they do, we will be able to manage the situation for now."

Meanwhile, the Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan has said that they will evaluate the current year's budget to find out the reasons behind the shortage of funds.

"Based on our assessments, we suggested that the government and national assembly should decrease the amount of discretionary funds and its percentage in the budget," the Deputy of Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan, Sayad Muhmmad Mahdi Husini, said.

Some other reasons are said to be the 91 code and discretionary funds. The 91 code is a special account used with the permission of the president. It is said that most of the money from the account has been spent on purchasing armored vehicles with a cost of $58 million for the members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) as well as the rents for the bourses with a cost of 800,000 Afghanis.

MoF officials are concerned because if they provide money to the country's treasures, they will not be able to provide the salaries of government employees on time.

The country faces a serious deficit while another two months remain of the financial year.

President Ashraf Ghani's administration faces not only security challenges but also sever economic crises that need prompt attention.

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:27:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16917-afghan-govt-faces-severe-economic-crises
Afghanistan, China Sign Four Agreements http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16916-afghanistan-china-sign-four-agreements

Afghan and Chinese government officials signed four agreements this week, addressing trade and commerce relations, bilateral economic ties, humanitarian aid and travel permits for public servants.

The agreements were signed during President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Beijing, his first official trip abroad as president. Ghani and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, praised the agreements and pledged for longterm cooperation between the two countries.

"We look at China as strategic partner in the short term, medium term, long term and very long term," President Ghani said. The Afghan president was received warmly upon arriving in China, including a ceremonial 21-gun-salute.

Based on the travel permits agreement signed between the two countries, Afghan and Chinese government officials will be able to travel between them without the need for a visa.

During the trip, Chinese President Jinping announced his support for the new national unity government in Afghanistan. "We will continue our strategic and friendly ties between Afghanistan and China, China is committed on supporting Afghanistan to protect its freedom, territorial integrity, security and development," he said.

Ghani also reportedly spoke to Jinping about security issues in Afghanistan. Before arriving in China, sources close to the Presidential Palace said the Afghan delegation would seek help from Beijing in getting Pakistan to act as a more helpful, honest partner in peace talks with the Taliban.

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Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:19:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16916-afghanistan-china-sign-four-agreements