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Decaying Guantánamo Defies Closing Plans

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - 7 hours 13 min ago
More than 12 years after the Bush administration sent the first prisoners here, tensions are mounting over whether President Obama can close the prison before leaving office.

Increase in the Number of Girls in Khost Schools

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 12:08

Local officials have reported that the number of girls attending school in eastern Khost province has increased to 115,000 as education awareness rises within families since the fall of the Taliban regime.

In the past years, the girls in Khost were not allowed to go to school beyond the sixth grade because families believed it would taint the honor of the family. However, in recent reports many girls have surpassed the sixth grade and some have even graduated from high school.

"I am currently in the eighth grade," Mujhghan, one of the many girls attending school, said. "My family encourages me to go to school."

Gul Pekai, another student, said that attitudes toward education have changed in society, showing appreciation toward her family and friends who have encouraged her to further her education.

Deputy Head of the Education Department of Khost, Bakht Noor Bakhtyar, said that the number of girls attending school increases every day.

Khost Governor Abdul Jabar Naeemi has expressed optimism over the recent developments in the education sector, especially for girls.

"Families are encouraged to let their daughter graduate from high school," Naeemi said. "We encourage families to allow their daughters to continue after the sixth grade."

The province of Khost has witnessed a positive change in the education sector and attendance of aspiring young girls, but the rest of the country has recently seen a decrease in the attendance of girls because of the deteriorating security issues.

EMERGENCY! Code Red, White flag!

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 08:34

I have to share something important and I must share it now.

After my first blog, I was 99 percent sure that I would never be able to provide advise because of zero response. But then, as if directly from a mythological Greek deity who warns mortals to not be so sure of anything, that one percent shined upon me. How? Females started to contact me through work or catch me at a local setting. And so, through a little encouragement for the last two weeks I have been consistently rotating outfits I've come across.

Though I'd like to think that I am fluent in wearing afghan/professional/stylish outfits and have heretofore cracked most codes in ethic/western design, I should always be open to opinions and designs.

Just last week, I walked into the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel for International Youth Day – theme 'Mental Health Matters' hosted by World Health Organization and Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs, wearing a long Barbie doll attire with Afghan embroiders and a thin, but large scarf covering my upper body making my presence known through the vibrant mustard color.

During the full day event, I came to ponder how you are perceived by your appearance affects the 'mental health' – it does matter. Men and women are both affected by judgment.

During the event, there were all ethnicities of the youth present with all sorts of style. Some styles elegant, subtle, simple and others too tight, see through, too many colors, he or she is liable to experience a hugely dangerous site that may or may not impair ones vision but let's cut the chase: Silver suit, blue shirt, red tie, brown sock and black shoes--- What?...the orange top, tight green jeans, multi-color scarf and red heels...flashy or trashy?

In the event you're unfamiliar with the terms of either word (flashy or trashy) I invite you to a style vocabulary lesson.

Here is a simple sample guide:

Trashy: not good. Flashy: ranging from decent to awesome. During my time at the event, there was a fashion show, first to my experience within Afghanistan, had the whole hall excited. So, tell me world, what is it that you really wish to know about? Casual, professional, evening or traditional attire within Afghanistan.

8pm Program: What Does Afghanistan Want from the NATO Summit?

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 08:26

In this episode, host Muslim Shirzad discusses what Afghanistan expects from the NATO summit with the following guests:

• Dr. Zakar Hussian Ershad, University professor
• Hamid Saboory, University professor
• Malik Setiz, researcher in international relations

To watch the program, click here:


19 People Killed in Herat Traffic Accident

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 06:39

A traffic accident in western Herat province claimed the lives of 19 people and injured seven others on Sunday, local officials said.

According to Abdul Raof Ahmadi, the spokesman for Heart police chief, the incident took place on Islam-Qala road after a car hit a truck while traveling from Ingil district of the province to Herat City.

"The accident claimed the lives of four women and six children," Ahmadi said. "The injured victims have been taken to the hospital."

Meanwhile, another recent accident in southern Zabul province killed five people and injured 26 others.

Officials have blamed reckless driving as a reason for the increase in the number of accidents in the recent months.

FARAKHABAR: 30 August 2014

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 06:24

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai last year had said the Afghan government will not face to any problem in 2014, but in the past the government has not paid the salary of the public employees.

To watch the program, click here:


The Afghan Minister of Finance, Omar Zakhilwal has warned that if the current situation of the election continues we will decrease the salary of the employees and will dismiss most of them.

Does the government know the situation of the people?

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

• Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Economic Minister

230 Injured As Police Clash With Protesters in Islamabad

TOLO News - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 05:33

At least 230 people were wounded in clashes between police and protesters in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, hospital officials said Sunday, as a fortnight-long political impasse took a violent turn.

The violence, which began late Saturday and continued early Sunday, broke out after around 25,000 people marched from parliament to the prime minister's house, where some attempted to remove barricades around it with cranes, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The protesters, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Canadian cleric Tahir ul Qadri, had been camped outside parliament house since August 15 demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit amid allegations of vote rigging.

The crisis took on a new dimension earlier in the week after the government asked the powerful army to mediate, raising fears the military would use the situation to enact a "soft coup" and increase its dominance over civilian authorities.

"There are 1,600 to 2,000 trained terrorists. They have 200 women who are trained in the use of firearms and they have come with the intention of occupying state buildings," defence minister Khawaja Asif told AFP as the fighting broke out late Saturday.

"These are buildings that are symbols of the state," he said. "Their attempts are being resisted. And we will resist these with full force."

AFP's correspondent at the scene said protesters were carrying batons and sling-shots.

The injured were rushed to Islamabad's two main hospitals, and the number of casualties is expected to rise as clashes continue.

- Protests spread -

Wasim Khawaja, spokesman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Islamabad, told AFP that 164 injured people have been taken to his hospital, while the Poly Clinic hospital said it had received 70 wounded so far.

"Condition of two of them was critical. There were more than 20 policemen among the injured," Khawaja said, with a second doctor confirming that figure.

Khawaja also said most of the victims had been injured by rubber bullets, and that that 17 of them were women. Khurram Ghuman, a spokesman at Islamabad's Poly Clinic hospital, told AFP: "There are 20 women among them and most have been affected by tear gas, but they all are in stable condition."

Demonstrations have also erupted in parts of the eastern city of Lahore and the port city of Karachi.

Protesters with batons have burned tyres and blocked roads in Lahore, an AFP reporter said. Police used batons and fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators there.

The protests remained peaceful in Karachi, however.

Khan and Qadri both claim that the 2013 elections which saw Prime Sharif sweep to power were massively rigged.

Local and and foreign observers said the polls were credible, and analysts believe the protests have been coordinated by the powerful army as a means of re-asserting its dominance over civilian authorities.

Paramilitary troops and soldiers standing guard to protect the PM's house as well as other sensitive installations have not yet been called into action, despite the violence Sunday.

- Women and children -

Women and children have been prominent among both protest groups, and the rising number of casualties is set to further polarise the already embittered political atmosphere.

But government officials defended the use of force. "The demonstrators attacked first. They wanted to occupy the prime minister's house and stage a sit-in there," said Asif Kirmani, an aide of Sharif.

Qadri, however, said the government began the violence.

"The march is heading to its destination, we were peaceful but government began the bloodshed," he said.

Khan told Express News during the violence that he was inside a shipping container in front of the prime minister's house.

"We will continue our struggle against the government, till our last breath," Khan said, calling for demonstrations across Pakistan.

Qadri was in a bullet-proof car close to the scene, according television images.

The government earlier struck a defiant note, issuing a statement saying that Sharif would not be stepping down.

"There is no question of resignation or proceeding on leave by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, nor any member from the government side has made such suggestion," the statement said.

Sharif had earlier dismissed the two-week old impasse as a "tiny storm" that would end soon.

Khan alleges the 2013 general election that swept Sharif to power in a landslide was rigged as part of a conspiracy involving the former chief justice and thousands of election commission workers.

Qadri has demanded wholesale changes to Pakistan's political system, and called for an interim "unity government" while they are implemented.
The leaders have drawn thousands to the streets of Islamabad, but their call has not mobilised mass support in a country of 180 million people.

Attack Kills 12 at Afghan Compound

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 05:00
A dozen people were killed when insurgents attacked the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence service in this eastern city Saturday.

Diplomat and Warrior

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Sun, 08/31/2014 - 05:00
We need Richard Holbrooke’s skill and resolve today.

Oqaban Hindukosh Defeats Mawjhai Amu 5-2

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 17:05

On the third day of the Roshan Afghan Premiere League (APL), Oqaban Hindukosh, representing central Afghanistan, defeated Mawjhai Amu, which plays for the northeastern region, with a 5-2 score line in their first match of the season.

Before the game began, Mawjhai player Atiqullah Shirzad expressed confidence about his team's chances. "This time, our team came for victory and the boys also have high spirits and hope to win the match," he said.

But Oqaban Hindukosh started the game with a series of rapid attacks on the Mawjhai Amu goal, and, in only the third minute of the game, were awarded a corner that brought them close to netting the first goal.

It was Mawjahi Amu that got the scoring off to a start, though. Massoud Qari Zada, wearing number 10, notched a goal eight minutes into the first half giving Mawjahi Amo a 1-0 lead.

However it wasn't long until Oqaban Hindukosh leveled. Saber Aser, also wearing number 10, scored in the '33 minute off a pass from Zamarai Salangi. The halftime whistle blew shortly after.

In the second half of the match, Oqaban Hindukosh's Anwar Akbari scored the second goal from the penalty spot to give his team the lead.

In the '58 minute of the match, Lal Padshah, wearing shirt number 11, scored the second goal in favor of Mawjahi Amo and brought the game back to an even split, 2-2. When the two teams met in the first season of the APL, they finished with a 2-2 draw.

But we're not destined for the same fate this season. The familiar stalemate was to be broken by three consecutive goals scored by Anwar Akbari, Zamarai Salangi and Mohammad Reza for Oqaban Hindukosh, bringing the game to a dramatic end with a 5-2 score line.

Moen Hamedi, the coach of Oqaban Hindukosh, said the reason for the victory was their superior attacking line.

Oqaban Hindukosh player Zamarai Salang was chosen as the Man of the Match.

Mawjahi Amo is composed of players from Badakhshan, Kunduz, Baghlan and Takhar provinces. Oqaban Hindukosh has players from Parwan, Kapisa, Daikundi, Bamyan and Panjshir.

The day before, Simorgh Alborz, representing northern Afghanistan, was defeated by De Maiwand Atalan, the team of the southwest, by three goals to one.

The first goal was scored by Khaled Irfan, wearing number six for De Maiwand Atalan, 27 minutes into the game.

Then, during the second half, Atalan spread their attack and scored another goal 71 minutes into the game.

But in the '86 minute, Semorgh Alborz notched one of its own with a strike from Farhad Sowgand.

But Atalan put the game away with a goal from Ghulan Rasool Fazli at the tail end of the match.

Having scored two out of three of the goals for the winning side, Khaled Irfan was named the Man of the Match.

Semorgh Alborz and Da Maiwand Atalan played against each other in the first season of the APL, where Semorgh Alborz won 2-1.

TOLOnews 6 pm News 30 August 2014

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:37

Despite the progress that has been seen in negotiations between the two presidential candidates, their representatives have said the key disagreement that has made a final resolution elusive is over the powers of the Chief Executive.

To watch the bulletin, click here:


According to individuals close to the negotiations that have been taking place this week, Abdullah Abdullah has demanded that the chief executive position serve as the head of the cabinet. However, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team has rejected that demand and maintained that to do so would be in violation of the Afghan Constitution and the original agreement made between the candidates with the help of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the beginning of August.

Candidates Stuck On Chief Executive Debate

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:17

Despite the progress that has been seen in negotiations between the two presidential candidates, their representatives have said the key disagreement that has made a final resolution elusive is over the powers of the Chief Executive.

According to individuals close to the negotiations that have been taking place this week, Abdullah Abdullah has demanded that the chief executive position serve as the head of the cabinet.

However, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team has rejected that demand and maintained that to do so would be in violation of the Afghan Constitution and the original agreement made between the candidates with the help of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the beginning of August.

"The Abdullah Abdullah campaign team wants CEO to be head of the cabinet as well and this demand is against the constitution and also against the agreement of both candidates in the presence of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry," said Tahir Zahir, a spokesman for Ashraf Ghani.

But Abdullah's side has argued the move, which was one facet of the national unity government deal the committee appointed by the candidates could not resolve earlier this month, would in fact be constitutional. With the candidates scheduled to meet on Saturday, Abdullah's team seemed optimistic that the dispute would soon be to rest.

"Our demands are not illegal, as Dr. Abdullah has said, the CEO must be given further authorities," Abdullah spokesman Said Fazel Agha Sancharaki said on Saturday.

Abdullah's people have also derided the continuation of the audit and ballot invalidation process while the negotiations are taking place. Both candidates withdrew their representatives from the audit center at the beginning of the week.

Officials from the United Nations, U.S. and European Union have met with the candidates to try to resolve their differences. President Hamid Karzai as well has sat down with them to try and end their stalemate.

The Presidential Palace has been vocal about its desire to hold the inauguration for the new president by September 2. But with the candidates still far apart over the issue of the Chief Executive, it seems unlikely the election will reach its conclusion by then.

8 Year Old Girl Married Off to 12 Year Old Boy

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:15

In the district of Sholgara of Balkh province, a man named Momen gave away his eight-year-old daughter Meena to wed a 12-year old boy because he could not support having his daughter live with him.

Momen defends his actions by explaining that his living circumstances forced him to wed his daughter off in exchange for a bride price—110,000 AFS—that he will use to re-marry.

"I asked the opinions of the clerics and shared with them the story of my miserable life," Momen explains in attempts to defend his actions. "I asked them if I should give away my daughter to a husband and they said yes, because you have a miserable life and you need money and then your life will improve. So I married her off."

Meena was five when she lost her mother. Not only was she too young to understand that she had lost her mother, but too young to understand why she lost her father's support and love.

The boy, who is now pronounced as Meena's husband, is named Sardar, a 12-year-old who, along with Meena, had no idea what marriage is let alone that the two have become one.

Confused of what was happening, Sardar was asked how he felt about the marriage and his response: "I just want to have a happy life."

Sardar's mother, whose name was not given, supports the marriage in defense claiming that the young girl was left on the streets.

"She was outside on the streets with no one to care for her, so I took her in for my son so she can live with us comfortably," Sardar's mother explained as she covered her face from the camera knowing what society thinks of child marriages.

The union of these children has left the residents of the district and women's rights activists stunned and appalled at the actions and explanations of the family and the cleric who performed the nuptial.

"Sharia law permits the girl who is a minor to be represented by her father and if her father agrees she can be married off," Mawlawi Qiyamuddin, cleric of the Hazrat Hamza Mosque in Sholgara, said.

Child marriages are, technically, against the law and the teachings of Islam and lawfully a sign of violence against the child.

Such incidents have occurred several times in Afghanistan and unfortunately numerous children have been sacrificed in the name of tradition and honor of the family. These unions tend to happen in far regions of the country that are unreachable, resulting in a number of unknown cases. Such traditions are far more practiced than the law of the nation.

Meena and Sardar are lost in their childhood fantasies not knowing and understanding what has just taken place. They must have believed they were playing dress-up with their family members as Meena was adorned with a red colored traditional afghan dress embellished with silver sequins and a black scarf embroidered with shiny silver beads that drowned her little body and Sardar in a glittery black suit jacket over a white tunic.

The two held hands as they walked out of the house together toward an unknown future and shattered childhood.

Rising Gas Prices Frustrate Kabul Residents

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 16:00

Residents of the capital have faced a steep rise in prices for gas, from roughly 50AFG per Kilogram to 140AFG per Kilo. And they have largely blamed the government for the new costs.

In turn, officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries have shifted that blame, maintaining that "criminal importers of oil in the market is the main cause of the increased gas price in Kabul city."

Kabul residents who spoke to TOLOnews said they are now forced to wait hours in lines to find gas in the city.

"Last night I believed we wouldn't have fuel so I gave my child ice cream and now I come here to find gas, but I have wait for hours," said Rehan, a resident of the Sar-e-Kotal area of Kabul.

Bashir, another resident in Sar-e-Kotal, said, "I came here about 5:30am and now it is 12:30pm but I cannot find government gas."

According to residents, prices vary around the city, but everywhere, access has become more limited.

"One selling 140AFG and another 130AFG, as they want, and the people are very poor and they cannot afford it," said Abid, another resident of Kabul.

Meanwhile, the head of the Oil and Gas Enterprise Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Faridullah Shirzai, said the issue could only be solved by the government itself importing more oil and gas.

"The monopoly of the gas has many benefits: no one will import low quality of fuel and price will be same," he said. "In the past, the government was certain about how much oil and has it has in its strategic reserve. We want all officials to review the situation."

Mohammad Amin Farhang, the former Minister of Commerce and Industries, told TOLOnews that with the strengthening of the Oil and Gas Enterprise Department, the issues of price fluctuations and scarcity would be solved. He pointed to government corruption as the main obstacle to the needed changes. "The government should strengthen the Oil and Gas Enterprise Department to import gas and to compete with the private sector, but the government is in cahoots with the private sector and while I was the Minister of Commerce and Industries I improved this situation, but they launched a plot against me and the MPs dismissed me," he said.

However, officials have said a proposal for a government-sponsored gas import push will soon be submitted to the Council of Ministers. The proposal would allow the government to sell imported fuels directly to Afghan traders.

Election Results Will Be Announced Soon: IEC

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 13:34

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) is said to announce the election results in a matter of days as the United Nations (UN) has promised to increase the number of observers for both processes, Noor Mohammad Noor spokesman for the IEC said on Saturday at a press conference in Kabul.

UN officials said that results will be broadcasted in the next 11 days, but IEC officials mentioned otherwise stating that the result will be announced sooner than what the UN stated.

"We promise the people of Afghanistan that in the next few days the election process will end and the results of the election will be announced," Noor said. "This time it will not be months or weeks for the final results, just a matter of a few days."

Currently the UN is working on the special audit process of 6,000 ballot boxes and IEC officials have expressed their contentment with the participation and assistance of international observers.

"As the UN promised to increase the number of observers for both processes, we hold them to that as it will accelerate the special auditing of the 6,000 ballot boxes," Noor said.

During the press conference Noor said that out of the total 22,828 ballot boxes 4,424 boxes are left to be audited, meaning that 80.68 percent of the process has been completed, according to IEC officials.

The IEC is said to hold a public meeting on Sunday to broadcast their decisions on the invalidation of ballots. These final decisions made by the IEC will be shared with both electoral teams.

The nation has held its breath for almost six months in anticipation for the first, in the country's history, democratically elected president.

Nine Killed in Sangeen Clash

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 13:00

At least seven Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and two civilians were killed in a clash with Taliban insurgents in Sangeen district of southern Helmand province in the past three days, local officials said on Saturday.

Three other soldiers were injured in the battle.

Spokesman for the Governor of Helmand, Omar Zwak, said that it has been more than a week since the clashes between the Taliban insurgents and ANSF began displacing dozens of families.

"We have called the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Defense (MoD) to send more troops to the district because if the situation continues as is we will lose control of the district," he stressed.

He added that during the crossfire the insurgents have faced large numbers of casualties, but "our troops are getting tired, we need fresh troops to take control of Sangeen quickly."

Helmand Police Chief Juma Gul Hemat in resonance to Zwak said that "they are not able to take control of Sangeen with the limited amenities they have."

"We have talked to the officials at the MoI for additional support because the insurgents have placed more roadside mines in the areas," Hemat explained.

Commander of the 201st Maiwand Military Corp in Helmand, Gen. Sayed Malook, said "heavy clashes still continue in Sangeen and we are not able to send equipments for the troops."

The situation in Sangeen continues to intensify as days pass. This is the second time in the past two months that the Taliban have attacked the district.

US Awards $16 Million to Poppy-Free Provinces

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 12:32

The United States has awarded $16 million to 17 provinces of Afghanistan that have decreased and/or maintained a poppy-free status, U.S. officials announced at a joint press conference with the Afghan minister of counter narcotics on Saturday.

U.S. officials said that Washington will continue to donate to the provinces that exemplify their efforts in countering narcotics.

"The Afghan government and people's achievements of the past year in fighting this terrible scourge sends a strong message to your international partners who are committed to continuing to work together to combat the global narcotics trade," the Coordinating Director at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Daniel Foote, said. "Counter narcotics is an important part of the broader United States commitment to a strong and sovereign Afghanistan."

Foote added that the awards support provincial development projects such as schools, health clinics, agricultural equipment and much more.

The Afghan government in 2007 established the Good Performers Initiative (GPI) to honor the efforts of the provinces that "attained or maintained a poppy-free status, who were than awarded $1 million each, reduced poppy cultivation by more than 10 percent in the last year are awarded $1,000 for each hectare above 10 percent, and exceptional counternarcotics achievements that are granted $500,000 each for up to two provinces."

During the press conference, Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics Mobarez Rashidi said that the revenue made by the poppy cultivation benefits the insurgents and mafia, stressing that the money that was set aside by the Afghan government to fight the war against drugs has not brought about positive change.

"One of the main concerns was that the money made by the drug went to the pockets of the insurgents and mafia," Rashidi explained.

He adds that the Afghan government and international community should continue with the program and donate to those provinces proving to slowly, but surely eliminate the poppy production.

The provinces that were awarded for 2013 under the status of poppy-free are as followed: Bamiyan, Ghazni, Jowzjan, Khost, Kunduz, Logar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul, Takhar and Wardak. These provinces were each awarded $1 million. The provinces of Baghlan and Herat each were donated $500,000 for special recognition in bringing significant change to the poppy cultivation in their areas.

The GPI program has granted more than $147 million since the start of the initiative in 2007 with the support of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

According to a statement released at the conference, beginning in September of 2014 the Ministry of Counternarcotics (MCN) "will implement a redesigned CPI to encourage more integrated counternarcotics action and provide more focused support for rural alternative livelihoods."

8 Evening Program: Strengths and Weaknesses of Security in Afghanistan

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 08:13

In this episode, host Muslim Shirzad discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the current government and security with the following guests:

Arif Sarwari, for NDS Chief
• Shukria Barakzai, MP
• Omar Samad, former Afghan diplomat in Canada

To watch the program, click here:


PURSO PAL: Exclusive Interview with Dr. Abdul Qayum Kochi

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 05:54

To watch Muslim Shirzad's exclusive interview with Dr. Abdul Qayum Kochi, former Afghan diplomat and uncle to presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, click here: 


US Steps Up Sanctions on Iran Over Nuclear Program

TOLO News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 05:40

The United States imposed new sanctions Friday on networks linked to Iran, stepping up pressure over Tehran's nuclear program, support of terrorism and evasion of US and international sanctions.

President Barack Obama's administration emphasized that it was still pursuing a negotiated solution with the Iranian government to resolve the international community's concerns about its nuclear program.

The new sanctions expanded the vast web of international sanctions that remain in force despite a temporary narrow lifting of sanctions in exchange for Iran's suspension of some of its nuclear activities.

"Today we took additional steps in our effort to maintain pressure on the government of Iran,"said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council.

"The United States remains committed to working with our P5+1 partners toward a long-term, comprehensive solution that provides confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful," the NSC spokeswoman said.

The P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States, plus Russia -- extended an interim agreement by four months, to November 24, to allow more time to negotiate a final accord.

Tehran denies that it wants to make nuclear weapons and the sides remain split on how much uranium enrichment Iran should be allowed to carry out.

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