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Indian Express Editorials and Explained 01 March 2020

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1)Explained: Details of deal signed between United States and Taliban

WHAT IS THE AGREEMENT?

– The deal includes a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan as well as guarantees from the Taliban that it will prevent militant groups including al-Qaeda from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.

– The agreement was signed in the Qatari capital Doha, which is the Taliban’s political headquarters and has hosted talks over the past year and a half.

– The agreement lays the groundwork for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government – known as intra-Afghan talks – to end a war that began after the United States launched attacks on Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks.

WHAT NEXT?

– The U.S.-Taliban agreement calls for a phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces and also requires the Taliban to initiate a formal dialogue with the Afghan government and other political and civil society groups on a permanent nationwide ceasefire and power-sharing in post-war Afghanistan.

– Bringing back troops from America’s longest war could be a boost for U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election in November.

– “The United States will reduce the number of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the U.S.-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the U.S.-Taliban agreement,”

– A full withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces would occur within 14 months of this deal getting signed, if Taliban fulfil their end of the deal, according to the text of the agreement.

– Up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released and the Taliban will release up to 1,000 prisoners by March 10, according to the text of the deal.

– The United States will work with the UN Security Council to remove Taliban members from sanctions by May 2020, the accord says.

– The next step would be for negotiators to work out an agreement for comprehensive ceasefire and the future governance of the country.

2)Explained: What is 2020 CD3, a mini-moon?

Central Theme : A ‘second moon’ has been discovered, orbiting Earth. Actually an asteroid, it will break free at one point.

Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth, which they have dubbed a “mini-moon” or the planet’s “second moon”. It is actually an asteroid, about the size of a car; its diameter is about 1.9-3.5 m. And unlike our permanent Moon, the mini-moon is temporary; it will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way.

Dubbed 2020 CD3, the mini-moon was discovered by Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona on the night of February 15.

When an asteroid’s orbit crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometimes be captured into the latter orbit. This is what happened with 2020 CD3. It is now orbiting at a distance farther from Earth. Such an asteroid is called a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO). The orbit of such objects is unstable. They have to contend with the gravitational influence of our permanent Moon as well as that of the Sun. Once caught in Earth’s orbit, such objects usually remain for a few years before they break free and go into independent orbit around the Sun.

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