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Taliban walk in front of a military airplane a day after the U.S. troops withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 31, 2021. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Ghani Was Leaving Afghanistan While He Was Expected at Meeting With Gov't

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The Pentagon announced the completion of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan and the end of the nearly 20-year mission there on Monday. The airport in Kabul is now under the full control of the Taliban*.
 
In his speech to the American nation on Tuesday, President Joe Biden defended the evacuation efforts, which have been severely criticized by both US politicians and the general public.
“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said. “Now some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner, and couldn’t this have been done in a more orderly manner. I respectfully disagree.”
Earlier today, a Taliban source told Sputnik that consultations on forming a government have finished, their results will be announced later.
Follow Sputnik's live feed to find out more!
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other countries.
 
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03:05 GMT 01.09.2021

"The Taliban are not one group now, they are motley. Twenty-five years ago it was a single group, now among them are members of international terrorist organizations, which are on the lists as ones prohibited by international organizations," Afghan Ambassador to Tajikistan Muhammad Zohir Agbar said in an interview with Sputnik.

00:37 GMT 01.09.2021
U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah at the White House, in Washington, U.S., June 25, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
Report: Biden Advised Ghani to Portray Fight Against Taliban as Successful 'Whether True or Not'
21:54 GMT 31.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki thanked the Afghan man who helped save then US Senator Joe Biden when was stranded in Afghanistan 13 years ago, adding that the United States remains committed to getting individuals like him out of Afghanistan.

"I would say first our message to him is thank you for fighting by our side for the last 20 years, thank you for the role you played in helping a number of my favorite people out of a snow storm, and for all the work you did," Psaki said on Tuesday. "And our commitment is enduring not just to American citizens but to our Afghan partners who have fought by our side… we will get you out, we will honor your service."

The Afghan man told US media that he is currently in hiding and asked the Biden administration to help save him and his family.

The Biden administration has said that they are coordinating with the Taliban to help ensure safe passage for evacuation of US citizens and Afghans allies alike.

21:46 GMT 31.08.2021

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has been in contact with Americans who are still on the ground in Afghanistan and provided them with information on how to continue to stay in touch after the US troops' withdrawal, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a press briefing.

"We have already been in touch with the American citizens in Afghanistan who either decided to remain there or who are unable to be evacuated," Price said on Tuesday. "For those who may change their minds, whether that is today, tomorrow, or a year from now, we have provided them with guidance as to how they can continue to be in touch."

Price said "closer to 100" Americans remain in Afghanistan and Washington will continue to be in contact with them as it explores options for their evacuation.

"We're exploring every potential option to bring any American out of the country who wishes to depart," Price said.

20:42 GMT 31.08.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Hezb-e-Islami political party is ready to support any future Afghan government no matter how many seats it obtains in a governing body, Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported on Tuesday, citing the party’s leader and ex-Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Hekmatyar reportedly said that a Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) leader assured him that the party will play a key role in the new government.

The former prime minister also congratulated his supporters on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, saying that everyone had waited for the day when the "US and NATO would leave Afghanistan in deep embarrassment, with their heads down and broken."

20:33 GMT 31.08.2021

“On the [Kabul] airport front, the more specific piece we're working with the Qataris and the Turks who are important partners here is getting the civilian side of the [Kabul] airport up and operational again so that we can use that not just for flights for people to depart, but also for humanitarian assistance, which we will work through programs like the World Food Programme and others to distribute,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a press briefing.

20:33 GMT 31.08.2021

"We have enormous leverage over the Taliban, including access to the global marketplace," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked what leverage the United States has over the Taliban to ensure the additional evacuation of civilians out of Afghanistan.

18:29 GMT 31.08.2021

The United Nations is ready bolster counterterrorism programs in Afghanistan, provided the new government is committed to fighting terror groups, European Union Home Affairs Commissioner YIva Johansson said on Tuesday, commenting on the conversation she had with UN Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov.

"I had the opportunity to discuss with Under-Secretary-General Voronkov how we can cooperate, and he told me that the UN is also ready to step up on counter terrorism programs if the new government in Afghanistan will make a strong commitment to avoid being a safe haven for terrorist organizations and work together with the international community to fight terrorism," the home affairs commissioner said during the press conference.

The Taliban (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) takeover of Afghanistan has raised multiple concerns in the international community of terrorism and increased risks to global security.

17:33 GMT 31.08.2021

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expects the Taliban (banned in Russia) to form an inclusive government, fully respect human rights and ensure that Afghanistan is not used to shelter terrorists as the country enters its first day without foreign forces, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

"The Secretary-General's message to the Taliban… is what he would like to see: the formation of an inclusive government, full respect for Afghanistan's human rights obligations, especially when it comes to women, to ensure that the hardest gains of especially the last two decades do not evaporate, and ensure that Afghanistan is not used as a base for terrorists," Dujarric said during a press briefing.

The spokesman said the United Nations, which has been present in the country for over 60 years, views "the day after" as just another day and will continue to stand with the Afghan people after the US and other foreign forces withdrawal.

However, the United Nations is concerned about the situation regarding the internally displaced Afghans and the disruption of the supply of humanitarian goods after the Taliban takeover, Dujarric said.

The Taliban seized control over Afghanistan on August 15 by entering the capital of Kabul and completing the weeks-long offensive across the country as the foreign forces were departing.

Late on Monday, the United States completed the withdrawal of its troops, ending the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

17:33 GMT 31.08.2021

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed on Tuesday the situation in Afghanistan during a phone conversation with European Council President Charles Michel, the prime minister's office said.

Earlier in the day, an Indian government source told Sputnik that Modi had established a high-level group to tackle issues related to Afghanistan after the Taliban (terrorist organization, outlawed in Russia) takeover.

"The leaders discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and the implications for the region and the world. They unequivocally condemned the horrific terror attack at the Kabul International Airport that resulted in many casualties. They emphasized the importance of a stable and secure Afghanistan and discussed the potential role India and the EU could play in this context," the office said in a statement.

Modi and Michel agreed to continue discussing both bilateral and international issues, specifically developments in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have been effectively running Afghanistan since mid-August, when they captured the capital of Kabul. This development prompted most countries to begin evacuating their citizens and diplomatic staff, as well as Afghan allies, using the Kabul airport. Last week, the airport and its surroundings were targeted by explosive devices. The Islamic State-Khorasan terror group (banned in Russia) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

17:26 GMT 31.08.2021

Crowds of Afghans took to the streets in the city of Kandahar waving the white flag of the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) and chanting slogans welcoming the end of the United States military presence in the country, a Sputnik correspondent reports on Tuesday.

Kandahar and the eponymous province have traditionally been the movement's stronghold and the birthplace of many of its leaders.

Many Taliban militants are participating in the "celebrations" that "the occupation is over." One of them, Jabbar, said that now Afghans should live in "fraternity."

Similar festivities were reported in the southeastern provincial capital of Khost. One of the residents, Mohammad Shah, told Sputnik by phone that "hundreds of people" have gathered to triumph over the end of the US military mission in Afghanistan. In Khost, demonstrators waved white Taliban flags along with the traditional Afghan tricolor, which the radical group opposes.

Former Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said on Twitter that "the Taliban won this fair & square." But peace is yet to be established, the ex-official added.

The US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan late on Monday, putting an end to the twenty-year mission.

17:09 GMT 31.08.2021

The EU should strengthen support for Afghanistan's neighboring countries to prevent migration crisis, the Council of the EU said in a statement following an extraordinary meeting of EU Home Affairs Council in Brussels.

"The EU will engage and strengthen its support to third countries, in particular the neighbouring and transit countries, hosting large numbers of migrants and refugees, to reinforce their capacities to provide protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable livelihood for refugees and host communities. The EU will also cooperate with those countries to prevent illegal migration from the region, reinforce border management capacity and prevent smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. To this effect, the mandates of EU agencies should be used to their full extent," the statement says.

16:58 GMT 31.08.2021

The United Nations is concerned that the latest developments in Afghanistan after the Taliban (banned in Russia) takeover of the country will generate a massive flow of refugees and urges neighboring countries to open up their doors, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

"Our concern is about an expected massive flow of people trying to leave Afghanistan who are fleeing persecution, or maybe fleeing violence. It is important that in the immediate phase, the neighboring countries open up their doors," Dujarric said during a press briefing.

Dujarric also said it is important to note that the global responsibility toward Afghan refugees is not limited to those countries that border Afghanistan.

"We will need a global show of solidarity," Dujarric added.

16:33 GMT 31.08.2021

The US has not left any dogs at the Kabul airport following after it has fully withdrawn from Afghanistan on Monday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday countering reports that circulated earlier in the day.

“To correct erroneous reports, the U.S. Military did not leave any dogs in cages at Hamid Karzai International Airport, including the reported military working dogs. Photos circulating online were animals under the care of the Kabul Small Animal Rescue, not dogs under our care,” Kirby said in a tweet.

At least 150 dogs were brought to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) by Kabul Small Animal Rescue in order to evacuate them onboard military flights. The US military refused to do so and the dogs were left in an enclosed area at one of the airport compounds after they were released from cages, according to the Pentagon spokesman's statement.

American Humane organization in a statement on Monday slammed the US military for abandoning military contract working dogs in Afghanistan and called upon the American government to load all dogs on cargo flights and transport them out of the country to save their lives.

16:14 GMT 31.08.2021
Tourists reflected in a EU logo - Sputnik International, 1920
EU Justice, Interior Ministers Hold Joint Press Conference After Meeting on Afghanistan
15:52 GMT 31.08.2021

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and Pakistani Ambassador to Moscow Shafqat Ali Khan on Tuesday confirmed the readiness of their countries to enhance cooperation within the so-called Extended Troika format on the peaceful settlement in Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Extended Troika includes Russia, China, the United States, and Pakistan.

"The focus of the conversation is on the Afghan problem. [Both sides] confirmed mutual intention to strengthen the coordination between Moscow and Islamabad, primarily within the framework of the Extended Troika in the interests of stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan," the ministry said in a statement.

The officials also agreed on the importance of bilateral interaction in various fields, particularly, the fight against terrorism, economy, and trade, the statement also said.

The Taliban (a terrorist organization, banned in Russia) took over Afghanistan on August 15 by entering the capital of Kabul and completing the weeks-long offensive across the country as the foreign forces departed from it.

Late on Monday, the US completed its withdrawal of troops, ending the 20-year mission in Afghanistan. The Kabul airport, where evacuation operations were conducted, was left to the Islamist movement.

15:51 GMT 31.08.2021

Germany contributed $2.3 million to support Afghan and Iraqi refugees in Iran, the World Food Program said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) welcomes a generous €2 million [US2.3 million] contribution from the Federal Republic of Germany in support of its longstanding assistance program to vulnerable Afghan and Iraqi refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the release said.

WFP explained in the release that the recent developments in Afghanistan have the potential to create an additional movement of people who are seeking refuge in other countries as well as those who are internally displaced.

The UN agency said the funds will help assist possible new arrivals in Iran and provide cash assistance to some 31,000 refugees already living in 20 settlements across the country.

Iran is among the countries that host the largest number of Afghan and Iraqi refugees - 780,000 and 20,000 respectively - who are in dire need for food assistance, according to the United Nations.

WFP said it estimates that more than 550,000 Afghans, 80 percent of whom are women and children, have so far been displaced by violence in 2021.

14:41 GMT 31.08.2021

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Tuesday called for immediate action from European Union member states to head off a humanitarian disaster that could result from the exodus of Afghan migrants.

"It is important that we are in a position that we can avoid a humanitarian crisis, migratory crisis and security threat from Afghanistan but then we need to act now and not wait until we have big flows of people, at our external borders or until we have terrorist organizations being stronger," the commissioner said.

It is important to protect women and those who are under immediate threat in Afghanistan, as well as helping them resettle in neighboring countries, the official said when arriving for the Justice and Home Affairs Council In Brussels.

The EU is trying to maximize its efforts to support humanitarian aid in the war-torn Central Asian country. Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, announced that the union is ready to provide financial support to member states who will help resettle refugees, adding that support for host countries in the region remains of utmost importance.

14:40 GMT 31.08.2021

Some 1,250 Canadian and permanent residents remain stranded in Afghanistan at the conclusion of the US-led foreign mission withdrawal from the war-torn country, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Tuesday.

“We estimate at the moment there are roughly 1,250 either Canadian citizens, permanent residents or family members that are in Afghanistan,” Garneau said during a press briefing.

Ottawa is asking those who were unable to leave Afghanistan to shelter in place and is urging the Taliban (designated as a terror group and outlawed in Russia) to ensure safe passage to those wishing to leave with the last foreign troops who left the country earlier in the day.

Garneau said Canada is also boosting its diplomatic operations in countries adjacent to Afghanistan to serve those fleeing via third countries.

The Taliban militants entered the Afghan capital of Kabul on August 15, ending a weeks-long offensive and resulting in the collapse of the US-backed government. The seizure of power has forced thousands of Afghans to seek refuge abroad for fears of reprisals from the militants.

Ottawa has vowed to relocated some 20,000 Afghan nationals to Canada, who are most at risk of Taliban reprisals.

13:47 GMT 31.08.2021

NEW DELH (Sputnik) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has established a high-level group to tackle issues related to Afghanistan after the militant takeover, a government source told Sputnik.

13:46 GMT 31.08.2021
13:43 GMT 31.08.2021

TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japanese Defence Ministry on 31 August directed the national Self-Defence Forces to end the evacuation operation in Afghanistan in time to meet the 31 August deadline.

Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi issued a corresponding decree, as the deadline for allied evacuations expires later in the day. 

"The dispatched units of the Self-Defence Forces must be returned to Japan as soon as possible," the press statement said.

A total of 15 people have been evacuated by Japan so far, including one citizen and 14 Afghans, whose airlift was requested by the United States.

The Japanese embassy stopped its operations in Kabul on 15 August, the day when the Taliban (terrorist organisation, banned in Russia) seized power in Afghanistan. The diplomatic staff was evacuated, and a temporary mission was opened in Turkey.

13:43 GMT 31.08.2021
12:39 GMT 31.08.2021
12:38 GMT 31.08.2021
12:04 GMT 31.08.2021
Taliban fighters pose for a photograph in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
Taliban to Announce Formation of New Government on Friday, Source Says
08:42 GMT 31.08.2021
08:09 GMT 31.08.2021
Taliban fighters guard a street leading to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 29, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920
'A Mark of the Taliban': Western-Allied Afghans Reportedly Receive 'Surrender or Die Night Letters'
08:03 GMT 31.08.2021
08:01 GMT 31.08.2021
U.S. Soldiers depart Forward Operating Base Baylough, Afghanistan - Sputnik International, 1920
China Says US Pullout From Afghanistan Shows Military Interventions Are Doomed to Fail
06:45 GMT 31.08.2021
06:11 GMT 31.08.2021

The United Nations will adjust the number of its personnel in Afghanistan depending on the organisation's operational needs and the security situation on the ground, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has told Sputnik.

Earlier, Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov called on the United Nations to return its officials, who have been evacuated, to the country to address the possible outflow of Afghan refugees to other countries.

"The UN will adjust our footprint depending on our operational needs as well as the security situation", Dujarric said.

06:07 GMT 31.08.2021

LONDON (Sputnik) - The British Air Force is ready to launch fresh airstrikes against the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia) in Afghanistan even after the United Kingdom and allies completed their withdrawal from the Central Asian country, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston told The Telegraph.

The UK ended its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan on 28 August, when its last military flight left the Kabul airport. On 30 August, the United States said that every single American service member is now out of Afghanistan, ahead of the 31 August deadline.

"Ultimately, what this boils down to is that we've got to be able to play a global role in the global coalition to defeat Daesh [IS] – whether it's strike or whether it's moving troops or equipment into a particular country at scale and at speed," Wigston said in an interview, published on Monday.

London is in talks with its partners on long-term plans to base more air force units overseas, the official continued.

"If there's an opportunity for us to contribute, I am in no doubt that we will be ready to. That will be anywhere where violent extremism raises its head and is a direct or indirect threat to the UK and our allies. Afghanistan is probably one of the most inaccessible parts of the world, and we're able to operate there," he added.

On 26 August, several deadly blasts targeted the Kabul airport and its outskirts. The Daesh-Khorasan terrorist group (banned in Russia) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The US has since responded with drone strikes against what it said were Daesh targets in Kabul and other areas of Afghanistan.

05:50 GMT 31.08.2021
Former President Donald Trump looks on before speaking during a tour to an unfinished section of the border wall on June 30, 2021 in Pharr, Texas. Gov. Abbott has pledged to build a state-funded border wall between Texas and Mexico as a surge of mostly Central American immigrants crossing into the United States has challenged U.S. immigration agencies. So far in 2021, U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 900,000 immigrants crossing into the United States on the southern border.  - Sputnik International, 1920
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05:50 GMT 31.08.2021
FORT DRUM, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08: U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division arrive from a 9-month deployment in Afghanistan on December 08, 2020 in Fort Drum, New York. - Sputnik International, 1920
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Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920
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