26/09/2021

THAILAND DAILY

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taliban-close-to-forming-gov’t-as-humanitarian-flights-resume

Taliban close to forming gov’t as humanitarian flights resume

The Taliban were expected to form a government as early as Friday as it faces domestic and international pressure to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women’s rights.

The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told AFP news agency, as the group shift gears to governing the country while also trying to deflect an armed challenge from rebels in Panjshir Valley region.

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.

The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been internally displaced due to the recent violence. As many as half a million others are also estimated to become refugees in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

The country’s main airport in Kabul remains closed but is expected to reopen in days with the help of technical experts from Qatar.

Here are the latest updates:


Afghan journalists, families from US-funded media left behind

Afghan journalists working for US-funded media face possible retribution from the Taliban after they were left behind in the country following the withdrawal of US troops.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, more than 100 media employees from Voice of America and the Afghan branch of Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe missed the evacuation, alongside their families numbering up to 400.


Taliban: China to keep embassy in Afghanistan, increase aid

A Taliban spokesman has announced that China promised to keep its embassy in Afghanistan open and to increase humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged country.

Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior Taliban official in the group’s political office in Doha, Qatar, “held a phone conversation with Wu Jianghao, Deputy Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China,” spokesman Suhail Shaheen wrote on social media.

“The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister said that they would maintain their embassy in Kabul, adding our relations would beef up as compared to the past. Afghanistan can play an important role in security and development of the region,” he said.

China also issued a statement saying that it “affirms” its ties with Afghanistan and that it wishes Afghans well as they rebuild their country.

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Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Director, PO held a phone conversation with Wu Jianghao, Deputy Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides discussed the ongoing situation of the country and future relations. The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister said that

— Suhail Shaheen. محمد سهیل شاهین (@suhailshaheen1) September 2, 2021


Taliban close to forming new government in Afghanistan

The Taliban were expected to form a government as early as Friday with the new rulers under intense international scrutiny over its vow to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women’s rights.

The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told AFP news agency, as the group shift gears to governing, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war.

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.

A Taliban spokesman posted on social media early Friday that China’s foreign ministry had promised to keep its embassy in Afghanistan open and to “beef up” relations and humanitarian assistance.


Pakistani soldiers stand guard in front of a member of the Taliban force, in the background, during an organised media tour to the Pakistan-Afghanistan crossing border, in Torkham, Pakistan on Thursday [Gibran Peshimam/Reuters]

UN resumes humanitarian flights to Afghanistan

The UN has resumed Humanitarian Air Service flights to Afghanistan with three planes arriving in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif since Sunday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.

The flights, operated by the World Food Programme (WFP), link Pakistan’s Islamabad to Mazar-i-Sharif and the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. The programme aims to deliver humanitarian aid to areas that are difficult to reach.

Dujarric said WFP is looking to “step up” its operations in Afghanistan as soon as possible.

“From 2002 to 2021, the UN Humanitarian Air Service in Afghanistan served more than 20 destinations in the country; it will seek to return to these locations once security and funding permits,” Dujarric said.


US Republicans demand transcript of Biden’s call with Ashraf Ghani

Republican legislators have sent a letter to the White House requesting the release of “the full, unedited and unredacted” transcript of President Joe Biden’s call with exiled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in July.

The letter, sent on Thursday, signed by 12 US Congress members, including top Republican Elise Stefanik, accused the administration of engaging in a “deliberate effort” to mislead the public on the situation in Afghanistan.

The legislators argued that releasing Biden’s conversation with Ghani would increase transparency to hold the White House accountable.

“The contrast between your administration’s official spin and the reality on the ground revealed a bewildering lack of coherence, strategy and fundamental transparency,” the letter said.


Blinken discusses Afghanistan in calls with counterparts

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in Afghanistan in separate phone conversations with his Saudi, Italian, Spanish and German counterparts on Thursday.

The State Department said Blinken thanked Germany for its “support in facilitating the transit of thousands of people out of Afghanistan” in a call with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

“The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed ways to promote the safety and security of Afghan and international citizens following the withdrawal of NATO forces,” it said.

Spoke today with Spanish Foreign Minister @jmalbares and conveyed our appreciation for Spain’s steadfast support for our evacuation operation in Kabul. We discussed how the international community can continue to promote and achieve safety and security for Afghans.

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 2, 2021


EU mulls reaction force after Kabul evacuation

European Union defence ministers weighed proposals for a European rapid reaction force after the bloc was sidelined during the US-led evacuation from Afghanistan.

Calls have grown for the 27-nation group to develop its own joint military capability to respond quickly to crises in the wake of the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport.

“Afghanistan has shown that deficiencies in our strategic autonomy come with a price and that the only way forward is to combine our forces and strengthen not only our capacity but also our will to act,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told journalists after the meeting in Slovenia.

“If we want to be able to act autonomously and not be dependent on the choices made by others, even if these others are our friends and allies, then we have to develop our own capacities.”


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