Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey agreed on Friday to hold joint military drills next year as part of Ankara’s bridge-building efforts between troubled neighbors Kabul and Islamabad.
“As a result of the work that our armed forces have done so far, a joint exercise will be held in April 2011,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in televised remarks.
Gul was speaking after trilateral talks in Istanbul with his counterparts Aghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
It was the fifth such meeting since 2007 when Turkey, NATO’s sole Muslim-majority member, launched the initiative to push Afghanistan and Pakistan to enhance cooperation against Islamist insurgents and improve ties poisoned by the insecurity plaguing their rugged border.
Gul said the three countries’ interior and foreign ministers, as well as intelligence and military officials, held separate cooperation talks during and ahead of the gathering in Istanbul.
Gul did not elaborate on the planned drills, but a joint statement issued after the talks said a “trilateral military live exercise on urban warfare” had been scheduled for March 19 to March 27 in Istanbul.
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been plagued by mutual suspicion, although bilateral ties have recently improved.
Taliban insurgents fighting against the Western-backed government in Kabul have rear bases in Pakistan, where Afghan and US officials say their leaders enjoy at least some measure of protection from Pakistan.
The powerful Pakistani military is often accused of continuing to foster the Afghan Taliban it spawned during the 1980s resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Islamabad flatly denies any collusion and says more than 2,420 of its soldiers have been killed fighting Islamist militants since 2002.
The three presidents agreed to set up “a trilateral direct video-telephone conference line in support of increased dialogue,” the statement said.
Turkey also pledged to organize joint programs for counter-narcotics officers from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Karzai spoke of suggestions that the Taliban open a representation office in Turkey or another impartial country “to facilitate reconciliation” in the war-torn country, Anatolia news agency reported.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed