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Iran and Saudi Arabia conclude another constructive round of talks in Baghdad

Iran and Saudi Arabia conclude another constructive round of talks in Baghdad

Iran and Saudi Arabia have held a fifth round of direct talks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, aimed at restoring relations between the Middle East's two regional powers, according to sources close to Iran’s security forces. The meeting date was not publicised beforehand, and Iraqi and Saudi sources have made no reference to it.   Senior representatives of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan, attended the talks.  The source mentioned that the main challenges to re-establishing ties between the two countries were discussed in a “positive” atmosphere that “painted a brighter outlook” for the future of bilateral relations. Iran and Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic ties in 2016, and recent efforts led by Iraq aim to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries as a first step. Both countries, however, downplayed the expectations of a major breakthrough anytime soon. A major achievement so far has been the reopening of Iran's office at the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
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Sectarian carnage in Afghanistan leaves dozens of dead and wounded

Sectarian carnage in Afghanistan leaves dozens of dead and wounded

The terrorist jihadist group, "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for a cluster of deadly attacks across Afghanistan on 21 April. The explosions were aimed at mosques as well as Taliban affiliated vehicles. At least 31 were killed and 87 were wounded. Another blast was reported on 22 April with 33 reported dead. No group is yet to claim responsibility for the latest attack.The IS say that the actions are part of a global campaign to “avenge” the death of its former leader and spokesman. While the Taliban government in Afghanistan say that they have defeated the extremist Jihadist group, the outburst of attacks highlights the continuing security risk that the group poses. Afghanistan has suffered several attacks over the past week as at least 47 were killed after Pakistan conducted airstrikes in Eastern Afghanistan.
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Analysis
Fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh

Fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh

A recent survey of women from the large community of Azerbaijanis displaced by the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh in the 1990s shows that fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The survey is part of a report, “IDP Women: needs assessment for post conflict life, including expectations for safe return home”, prepared by Khalisa Shahverdiyeva on behalf of the Azerbaijani NGO “Women’s empowerment for sustainable development”. Following the 2020 Karabakh war a new situation has emerged which opened the prospect of the return of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced by the fighting in the 1990s to their place of origin, and in many cases to live together or in close proximity with Armenian communities. The survey covered 590 internally displaced women, while 30 more women were interviewed to get a tentative picture of their needs and expectations, including their fears and concerns for peace-building and returning home.  The overwhelming majority (87.55%) of respondents highlighted the necessity of being free from danger as a decisive factor behind their decision to relocate. Consequently, the full-scale clearance of landmines supported by a guarantee of non-resumption of armed hostilities have been underscored as key factors for IDPs’ return home.  
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Opinion
Opinion: Brussels summit has given a new momentum to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace prospects

Opinion: Brussels summit has given a new momentum to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace prospects

"In the days since the Brussels summit of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on April 6, diplomatic activity around the peace process between the two countries has intensified. In contrast to the first year after the Second Karabakh War, the role of the EU in this context has grown and provides a viable alternative to the Russia-led track in the negotiations", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. "Against this backdrop, as agreed in Brussels, Armenia and Azerbaijan have launched the preparatory work for a peace treaty which triggered a bilateral phone conversation between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers - the first time this happened in recent decades. These developments are not welcome by Russia-aligned revanchist forces in Armenia, separatist groups in Azerbaijani Karabakh, or, to some extent, by Russia."
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Charles Michel meets Zelensky in Kyiv and visits Borodyanka

Charles Michel meets Zelensky in Kyiv and visits Borodyanka

European Council president Charles Michel, who is currently paying a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, met on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  Later, Zelensky tweeted: "My valuable friend Charles Michel is in Kyiv today. Sanctions against Russia, defense and financial support for our country, and responses to a survey on compliance with EU criteria have been discussed. I thank for the meaningful meeting and solidarity with the Ukrainian people," said Zelensky. During the course of the day, Michel also visited the town Borodyanka. He said that the situation in the town was the same as in Bucha and many other Ukrainian towns. "History will not forget the war crimes that have been committed here. There can be no peace without justice," he said.