In view of the prevailing circumstances, it has been decided that our Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will move to India immediately.— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) August 17, 2021
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden has decided to allocate up to $500 million to help refugees from Afghanistan, the White House said in a statement.
"I hereby determine... that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the MRAA in an amount not to exceed $500 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs of refugees, victims of conflict, and other persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan," Biden said in a memorandum for the Secretary of State.
BEIJING (Sputnik) - China is ready to cooperate with the United States on Afghanistan to prevent a civil war and prevent the country from becoming a breeding ground for terrorism again, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"China is ready to interact and conduct a dialogue with the United States in order to facilitate the implementation of a soft settlement of the Afghan issue, to help ensure that there is no new civil war or humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, so that it does not again turn into a hotbed and refuge for terrorism," Wang said as quoted by his ministry.
TORONTOm (Sputnik) - Ottawa is taking its time assessing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Canada’s Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said, albeit, not explicitly ruling out recognition of a government led by the terror group (banned in Russia).
"It’s early days. Right now, we want to see what happens," Garneau said on Monday, when asked during an interview with state broadcaster CBC whether Ottawa would recognize a Taliban-led government, noting it is "too early" to answer such questions.
"We have to see how [the Taliban] behave," Garneau added when pressed to clarify his position, saying that the terror group’s behavior was unacceptable during its first rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - Afghanistan will be represented by the head of state at the high-level week of the UN General Assembly in September, his name has not been specified, according to a provisional list of speakers obtained by Sputnik.
The head of Afghanistan is expected to speak September 22.
The 76th session of the UN General Assembly will open on September 14. The most important foreign policy event of the year - the week of the high-level session of the UN General Assembly - will be held September 21-27.
"The mission is to evacuate our embassy personnel, American citizens as well as Afghans who we can help," Defense Department Spokesperson John Kirby said at a press briefing. on Monday. "The timeframe that we’re on… is to complete that mission by August 31."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The team from the State Department and US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad remain in Doha and continue engagement with both the Afghan government and the Taliban, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said at a press briefing.
"Ambassador Khalilzad and his team remained in Doha, they still remain in Doha following consultations that we talked about last week with a number of countries from the region, the UN and countries much further afield. They continued and they still continue to engage with the Taliban, they continue to engage with Islamic Republic, the government of Afghanistan representatives," Price said on Monday. "We do continue to engage with Taliban representatives in Doha from the State Department team. The US military has spoken to engagement with the Taliban on the ground in Kabul."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is still taking stock of what transpired in the last 72 hours in Afghanistan, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked about Washington possibly recognizing a Taliban (banned in Russia) government.
"We are still taking stock of what has transpired over the past 72 hours and the diplomatic and the political implications of that," Price said on Monday.
BERLIN (Sputnik) - The latest developments in Afghanistan are bitter not only for Afghans, but also for the West, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.
"From the moment of the foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, we have been watching the Taliban [a terrorist group, banned in Russia] occupying one province after another, one city after another with an incredible speed, and regaining control of all the country. It is an extremely bitter development. Bitter, dramatic, and awful development, especially, for people in Afghanistan," Merkel told reporters.
Such developments are also bitter for Germany and its allies who have been fighting terrorism in Afghanistan for 20 years under the guidance of the United States, the chancellor continued.
According to Merkel, the international community, as well as Germany, failed to estimate the developments in the Central Asian country correctly and did not foresee that the Taliban would seize the power so quickly, as the government forces did not resist.
A summit on Afghanistan and the support of the neighboring states will be discussed among EU leaders, but the priority now is to evacuate as many people from the country as possible, Merkel added.
The US president says he "stands squarely" behind his decision to leave Afghanistan while lambasting the Afghan leadership for fleeing the country and troops for not fighting.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - There are prospects for representatives of various political forces of the country to enter the future government of Afghanistan, Russian Ambassador in Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said.
"There are political forces, the spectrum of political forces is rich, such a patchwork quilt. I can't get into the head of the Taliban, but it would be logical for them to have such a social support that would provide them with the broadest possible support of all political forces, except for the regime [of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who fled the country]. But he escaped, he is no longer there. And the Taliban guaranteed amnesty for ordinary officials, ordinary soldiers, they will not touch anyone," Zhirnov said on the air of Youtube channel Soloviev Live.
"I think there are prospects for representatives of different political forces to come to power," the ambassador added.
ZURICH (Sputnik) - Countries neighboring Afghanistan expressed their readiness to accommodate extra air traffic as flights over the conflict-ravaged country have all but stopped, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority said the airspace of the country was open only to military aircraft and asked civilian planes to avoid it.
"Traffic through Afghan airspace is lower than usual because of reduced demand due to COVID-19. States near Afghanistan have indicated they can accommodate additional traffic. The use of alternative routes through these states will support safe and secure operations, but will have time, operational and fuel impacts upon airlines," IATA said in a statement.
The association noted that airlines informed it they were bypassing Afghanistan's airspace.
"Airlines normally using Afghan airspace and IATA are maintaining constant coordination and communication through the standard contingency protocols and sharing information via the IATA Global Tactical Operations Portal (ITOP)," IATA added.
Here are the WH Afghanistan talking points Pelosi's office just sent around. They are not good:— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) August 16, 2021
"The Administration knew that there was a distinct possibility that Kabul would fall to the Taliban. It was not an inevitability. It was a possibility." #facepalm pic.twitter.com/aE8lbCnw1z
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan on Monday sent a letter to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan asking him to assist with the evacuation of 204 journalists working for three major US newspapers together with their families from Kabul.
"Jake, Urgent request on behalf of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post is to have our 204 journalists, support staff and families transported by US Military from the civilian side of the Kabul airport to the military side of the airport where they can be safe as they await evacuation flights," the letter, obtained by NBC News, said.
Ryan underscored that the journalists are currently in danger and require US government assistance to be able to leave Afghanistan safely.
LONDON (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a telephone conversation on Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss an international response to the situation in Afghanistan after the militant takeover.
"He [Johnson] stressed the need for the international community to come together and take a unified approach on Afghanistan, both in terms of recognising any future government and in working to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis," the statement read.
Johnson also expressed his determination to hold a virtual meeting involving all the G7 leaders soon to talk about the developments in Afghanistan.
"The leaders both emphasised the ongoing importance of working together on the long-term future of Afghanistan and the immediate need to help our nationals and others get to safety," the prime minister's office reported.
Johnson and Macron agreed to cooperate at the United Nations Security Council, and work on a joint resolution.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia maintains contacts with all political forces in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday.
"Russia maintains contacts with all parties, with all forces in Afghanistan. We do this, including — I want to draw the attention of all those who are interested in this topic — we do this in connection with the fact that there is a corresponding UN Security Council resolution of 2020, which prescribed countries to maintain contacts with the parties", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said on the air of the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.
MOSCOW, August 16 (Sputnik) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday urged the sides in the Afghan conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law after the Taliban took over the country.
The WHO has voiced concerns over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, expressing condolences to relatives of those who died as a result of turmoil after the Islamist movement launched an offensive.
"The situation is deteriorating rapidly. We call on all parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and human rights law. The gains of the past twenty years cannot be turned back", the organisation's Eastern Mediterranean regional office tweeted.
It also urged respect and support of medical workers on the ground as well as steps to ensure the accessibility of health services in the country.
PARIS (Sputnik) - Destabilisation in Afghanistan is fraught with uncontrolled migration flows to Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron said.
"Destabilization in Afghanistan threatens the emergence of uncontrolled migration flows to Europe", he said in a televised address to the nation on Monday.
He stressed that Afghanistan should not again turn into a haven for terrorists, which it was before, "this threatens peace and international stability".
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A "great tide of hunger" is threatening to roll over Afghanistan after fighting exacerbated drought-related food shortages, putting the country on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme told Sputnik.
"The rapid acceleration of conflict and the sharp increase in hunger has brought humanitarian catastrophe to Afghanistan's doorstep… With drought, pandemic, and conflict, the food security situation will continue to worsen; and a great tide of hunger is soon arriving", Kun Li said.
WFP estimates that conflict, COVID-19 economic hardships and extreme weather have pushed 14 million in Afghanistan, or one in three Afghans, into acute food insecurity, while 2 million children are malnourished.
"A lot of members of the Afghan civil society, defenders of rights, artists, journalists are today under threat (...) We will welcome them because it's France's honour to be alongside those who fight for freedom", Macron said
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar said on Monday that his colleagues and his residence came under attack on the day the Taliban took over Kabul.
"After yesterday's cowardly attacks on my colleagues and my residence, which I strongly condemn, some colleagues and I have safely arrived at a safe place," Atmar tweeted.
The diplomat added that he will soon voice his opinion on the recent developments in Afghanistan.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Taliban movement guaranteed amnesty to the Afghan security forces and promised that there would be no purges, Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said on Monday.
"They immediately guaranteed amnesty to all the security forces, all servicemen. No witch hunt, no purges," the ambassador said on the air of the Ekho Moskvy broadcaster.
He added that the Taliban also ensured that "not a single hair" would fall from the head of Russian diplomats.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The head of the Supreme Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, and the country's former President Hamid Karzai said they were negotiating peace with the leadership of the Taliban, the Tolo News broadcaster reported.
According to Karzai and Abdullah, the goal of the talks is to achieve peace and security in the country. The main focus is on the topic of maintaining stability in Kabul. It is noted that the former Prime Minister of Afghanistan (1993-1994), leader of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan (IPA) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was negotiating together with them.
Earlier, a source in the Taliban movement told Sputnik that the council, which included Karzai, Abdullah and Hekmatyar, took over the country and would later hand it over to the Taliban.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in Afghanistan after a de facto change of power, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
The phone conversation took place on Monday at the initiative of the US side.
"The parties discussed the situation in Afghanistan after the flight of the head of state from the country, the disintegration of the current government and a de facto change of regime," the ministry said in a statement.
TORONTO, August 16 (Sputnik) - Ottawa has evacuated 807 Afghans and dozens of Canadian diplomatic and military personnel from Afghanistan that fell back into the hands of the Taliban (banned in Russia) over the weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
"At least 807 Afghans have been evacuated, to date, and over 500 have already arrived in Canada," Trudeau told reporters during a campaign stop in Longueuil, Quebec.
Ottawa has also whisked away 34 Canadian diplomats and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel, two international diplomats and five NATO personnel, according to Trudeau.
The Prime Minister explained that Canada is working with the United States, the United Kingdom and other allies to move people out of Afghanistan. In addition, Ottawa has pledged to resettle up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals, including female activists and journalists, who could be the Taliban’s primary targets for retribution, Trudeau said.
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) released a press statement on Monday calling for an immediate end to hostilities and the formation of a united, inclusive government in Afghanistan.
"The members of the Security Council called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative", the UNSC said.
JUST IN: U.N. Security Council on Taliban takeover of Afghanistan:— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 16, 2021
"The members of the Security Council called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative." pic.twitter.com/el1AwKb4aO
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A Turkish Airlines aircraft evacuating Turkish citizens from Afghanistan has landed in Istanbul, Turkish media reported on Monday.
The Daily Sabah newspaper said that the plane carrying over 320 passengers landed at the Istanbul Airport at 4:45 p.m. local time [13:45 GMT].
Earlier in the day, a Turkish Airlines spokesperson told Sputnik that the airline had not been instructed to send an evacuation plane to Afghanistan.
"We are evacuating all diplomatic personnel who wish to evacuate and wish to come through Pakistan, all representatives of international agencies who have requested our help in being evacuated, and all other personnel who feel that they are in danger", Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram said during a briefing.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Taliban told TOLOnews on Monday that they are discussing a new government in Doha and are due to unveil details on the matter soon.
A senior official of the Islamist movement told the media outlet that its leadership is currently negotiating the name and structure of the future cabinet, and maintains contact with both international players and political forces in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is sending another 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total new deployment figures to 6,000, Business Insider reported on Monday citing Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.
BERLIN (Sputnik) - Germany needs to evacuate about 10,000 people from Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Christian Democratic Union party on Monday, the DPA news agency reported, citing meeting participants.
The number is said to include at least 2,500 Afghans who cooperated with the German authorities and their family members.
"We are evacuating people in cooperation with the US. Without the help of the Americans we would not be able to do this work", Merkel said as quoted by DPA.
The chancellor reportedly added that the security of the Kabul airport could only be ensured by the US.
"All Afghan nationals and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so safely", US Envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Military flights at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan have resumed despite expectations of sporadic suspensions due to large crowds forming on the airfield, CNN reported on Monday.
A US defence official said that the military flights have resumed, but that clearing operations may be needed should large crowds continue to gather on the airfield.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US troops fatally shot two armed men at the international airport in Kabul on Monday, media cited an American official as saying, as the frenzied mass evacuation from Afghanistan continues.
An unnamed official was cited as saying by The Wall Street Journal that the armed men were shot as they approached US troops providing security during the evacuation of American nationals.
At least three Afghans were run over as they clang to a US air force jet on the tarmac, according to the same official. The WSJ also cited witnesses who saw three bloodied bodies, including that of a woman, lying outside the terminal building.
"Indeed, temporarily, until the situation returns to normal, Aeroflot aircraft will avoid the airspace of Afghanistan. In fact, the restrictions apply to two flights: Delhi and Bangkok. And our decision is consistent with the position of the regulator", spokesman Mikhail Demin told reporters.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled his country, is now in Oman, a source close to Afghan authorities told Sputnik on Monday. "According to my information, the president is in Oman", the source said, adding that the Omani authorities will "surely deny it".
"They commit foreign policy mistakes, they have already committed one, for which the Afghan people are paying", Kabulov said on air of Russia-24 broadcaster, asked to comment on the position of European countries on the situation in Afghanistan.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Several people were killed as the US military opened fire on Afghans at the Kabul airport, a source in the security forces told Sputnik on 16 August.
Agence France-Presse reported earlier, citing an eyewitness, that the US military fired warning shots to push crowds back from the runway.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The situation remains calm in Afghanistan, there are no reports of clashes on the country's territory, a spokesman for the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) told Reuters on 16 August.
"The situation is peaceful, as per our reports," the spokesman said.
* The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Taliban* (a terrorist group, outlawed in Russia) in 2020 offered bribes to Afghan officials and military officers to surrender or hand over their weapons, The Washington Post has reported, citing its sources.
While the country's officials describe proposals that were offered in early 2020 as ceasefires, in reality, the Taliban was offering money so that Afghan troops would hand over their arms, according to the newspaper.
Throughout the next year and a half, the meetings are said to have progressed to the level of districts and provincial capitals, leading to a series of negotiated surrenders by Afghan forces.
One Afghan special service officer told the news outlet that, while some were just after money, the others were convinced that the militants would seize power in the wake of the US withdrawal and wanted to get in the winning side's good graces.
On Sunday, the Islamist movement entered Kabul, after which President Ashraf Ghani announced resignation and left the country. Ghani said his decision was dictated by the desire to prevent violence as the militants were ready to carry out an attack on the capital.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that the movement had put an end to the 20-year war in the country.
* The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.