VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Sputnik) - The Russian Agency for International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) has no contacts on its work in Afghanistan with the Taliban (banned in Russia), the communication with the new Afghan authorities is maintained by the Russian Embassy in this country, the agency's head, Yevgeny Primakov, told Sputnik on Friday.
"We are not discussing that with the Taliban. It is officially announced that our embassy is in contact with the new authorities [of Afghanistan]," Primakov said on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok.
He added that the agency was likely to resume its activities in Afghanistan after the stabilization of the situation.
KABUL (Sputnik) - Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao has said in a phone call with Abdul Salam Hanafi, the deputy head of the Taliban (banned in Russia) political office, that China plans to keep its embassy in Kabul open, a spokesman for the radical movement said on Thursday.
"The Chinese assistant foreign minister said that the [Chinese] embassy in Kabul will continue to operate," Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban political office, tweeted.
During the phone talk, the sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, the spokesman said, quoting Wu as saying that the Chinese-Afghan relations "will be better than before."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Central Command (CENTCOM) continues to assess the results of the drone airstrike in Kabul that reportedly killed 12 Afghan civilians on Sunday, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday.
"I know that Central Command continues to assess the results of that airstrike," Kirby said at a press briefing.
Just in: Marine Corps update on condition of 15 Marines injured in Kabul blast last week:— Andrew Dyer (@SDUTdyer) September 2, 2021
1 in critical condition
3 in serious condition
11 in stable condition
All being treated at Walter Reed.
The Islamic State-Khorasan terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) has a keen interest in attacking US aviation targets and personnel at military bases, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday.
"We know ISIS-K has a keen interest in attacks against aviation targets and our personnel on the ground in our military bases, and these are among the risks we take into account," Psaki said during a press briefing when discussing concerns about possible charter flights scheduled to get Americans out of Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke discussed with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla the situation in Afghanistan as well as the state of bilateral relations, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.
"Foreign Secretary [Harsh Shringla] called on US Secretary of State [Antony Blinken]. Discussions touched on bilateral ties and the situation in Afghanistan," Bagchi said via Twitter.
On Tuesday, India’s Ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met with the head of the Taliban's (banned in Russia) political office in Doha, Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, at the Indian Embassy in the city.
A government source told Sputnik on Tuesday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi established a high-level group to tackle issues related to Afghanistan.
"Foreign Secretary [Shringla] met Wendy Sherman for substantive discussions on advancing the India-US Strategic Partnership across sectors including healthcare, defense and security, trade and investment, climate change, clean energy and people to people ties," Bagchi said in another message via Twitter.
Sherman is scheduled to speak on the United States' Indo-Pacific policy at the University of Southern California later on Thursday
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Afghanistan developments in a telephone conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday
“Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke today with the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud,” Price said in a readout. “The secretary and foreign minister discussed Afghanistan and other regional issues.”
Blinken and bin Farhin also shared their concern over the Houthis’ latest attack on the Saudi city of Abha, which wounded at least eight civilians, the spokesperson said.
“The Secretary expressed the United States’ strong commitment to its longstanding strategic partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to helping Saudi Arabia defend its people and territory,” the readout said.
On Tuesday, Blinklen announced that the US government strongly condemned the Houthi drone attack on the international airport in Abha.
Germany is ready to return its diplomats to Kabul, subject to security and compliance with human rights and other conditions by the Taliban (the movement is banned in Russia as a terrorist group), German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.
"We are ready not only to provide humanitarian assistance, because Afghanistan is threatened with a humanitarian catastrophe. We are ready to provide development assistance if these conditions are met (respect for human rights, inclusive government, refusal to provide the territory of the country to terrorists). If these conditions will be met and if security conditions are ensured, we are also ready to have a diplomatic presence in Kabul again. We will discuss this not only within the EU, but also in a wider circle. If we want to help, we must have a diplomatic presence," Maas said before an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.
He noted that "there is a new reality in Afghanistan, whether you like it or not."
"We do not have time to heal our wounds if we want the European Union to play a role, and it must do it, so we need to act quickly. We must clearly establish our position on Afghanistan," he added.
Afghan national carrier Ariana said on Thursday it will resume commercial flights between Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif starting September 3.
"Ariana Afghan Airlines proudly announces that its flights to Mazar-i-Sharif are resumed. Kabul – Mazar-i-Sharif – Kabul tomorrow, on Friday, and on September 12," the company said.
A new government in Afghanistan is to be formed soon, but it will not comprise female ministers, Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
"We will form a new government of national unity as soon as possible. We would like to create a lean government with only half the number of previous ministries," Mujahid told Italy's la Repubblica newspaper, adding that women cannot serve as ministers under Quran and Sharia, but can work in ministries, police and courts as assistants.
Afghan women will not be barred from attending universities either, Mujahid stated.
Mohammad Naeem Wardak, a spokesman for the Qatari Taliban political office, told Sputnik that the movement intended to involve all population groups in the cabinet.
"As for the formation of a government, it will be a comprehensive system that includes the entire spectrum of our society, and the Afghan people will become aware that this government will be for everyone," he said when asked whether the cabinet will include people that are not Taliban members.
Speaking of the resistance in the Panjshir province, he said peace negotiations have not yielded any results.
As for international ties, the Taliban sees China as the main partner that is "ready to invest in Afghanistan and rebuild the country."
"China is our pass to the world’s markets," Mujahid said.
Though it may seem so, but relations with Russia have not deteriorated, as the country plays a crucial role in the region, the spokesmen contented. Ties with Moscow are mostly political and economic, and Russia contributes to creating conditions for international peace, according to the Taliban representative.
Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, many countries have evacuated their embassies and diplomatic staff. Some nations opted to relocate their diplomatic missions to safer nearby states such as Turkey or Qatar.
The embassies of Russia and China continue their operations in the Afghan capital.
Security needs to be restored at Kabul's international airport before commercial flights can resume, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
A source told Sputnik that a plane carrying Qatari experts landed at the airport on Wednesday to see if operations could begin. The Qatari foreign minister said his country was in talks with militants and Turkey, which used to be in charge of airport security before Kabul's fall.
"Conditions must be met to begin commercial flights from Kabul airport, and the priority is that security be guaranteed both inside and outside," Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara.
The Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) promised to restore security at the airport, the minister added. He said the Taliban and several countries had asked Turkey to assist them with the airport's technical support in order to restart operations.
Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag, who is on a visit to the Turkish capital, said that the Netherlands was ready to provide support in the matter.
"The Netherlands offered support to #Turkey in its efforts to assist in re-opening the airport in Kabul together with Qatar and other partners," she tweeted, adding in a follow-up post that the Dutch government continues to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.
Since the Taliban takeover on August 15 and until August 31, the airport served as a departure point for foreign evacuation flights.
Brussels should take into consideration the future actions and decisions of the new Afghan government when building relations therewith, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday.
"We have to shape our relations with Afghanistan, including developments of relations and cooperation with the new government, depending on the path followed by the new authorities," Borrell told a press conference after an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Slovenia.
He called on EU member states to join forces and boost the common capacity and will to act, saying that the crisis in Afghanistan demonstrated the "deficiencies in our strategic autonomy."
"What has happened to Afghanistan will be exploited by anti-Western actors and that is why we have to step up our integrated approach combining military, civilian development and diplomatic efforts," Borrell said.
The Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) seized power in Afghanistan on August 15. The radical movement is expected to announce a new government on Friday.
The issue of recognizing the new authorities of Afghanistan will become relevant after the formation of a new inclusive government, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
"We support the formation of an inclusive coalition government in Afghanistan with the participation of all ethnopolitical forces of the country, including national minorities. Therefore, the issue of official recognition of the new authorities will become relevant after the completion of this process," she said at a briefing on Thursday.
The Kabul airport will reopen in the next two days after Turkey and Qatar provided financial assistance, a spokesman for the Taliban movement, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said on Thursday.
"Kabul Airport with the financial support of $30 million from Qatar and Turkey will be operational within two days," Stanikzai said, as quoted by the Afghan TOLO News broadcaster.
Another plane with technical experts arrived in Kabul on Thursday to discuss the resumption of the airport’s operation, Al-Jazeera reported.
A source told Sputnik that the first plane carrying Qatari experts landed at the airport on Wednesday to see if operations could begin. The Qatari foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said his country was in talks with the Taliban (banned in Russia) and Turkey regarding the issue.
The US financial services company Western Union is resuming money transfers to Afghanistan after suspending it on the back of the Taliban (banned in Russia) takeover of Kabul, the company said on Thursday.
"Starting September 2, 2021, Western Union is pleased to announce that it is resuming its money transfer services into Afghanistan, enabling our customers from 200 countries and territories to once again send money to their loved ones in the country," Western Union said in a statement via Twitter.
Western Union said that they will also offer a two-week period starting on September 3, during which there will be no transfer fee to send money to Afghanistan. However, the service to send money out of Afghanistan to another country remains suspended, it added.
Money will be paid out in either US dollars or the Afghan national currency at locations mostly in the Kabul area for now, but more payout locations are reopening by the day, according to Western Union.
The Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) intends to deliver "a final blow" to Panjshir-based resistance forces on Thursday, TOLO News reported, citing a source from the Afghan province that remains out of Taliban's control.
The Taliban movement plans to use its best troops and military equipment during the offense, according to the source.
The Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) consider the demands of the Panjshir resistance to be unreasonable, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday, citing sources within the movement.
The broadcaster said earlier in the day that the Taliban decided to launch a large military operation in Panjshir after negotiations with resistance leader Ahmad Massoud failed the day before.
Massoud reportedly requested 30% representation in a new government. He also demanded that the Taliban coordinate all appointments of officials with the resistance forces and let them keep all their weapons and military equipment.
Panjshir, located northeast of Kabul, remains the only Afghan province that has not fallen to the Taliban. In August, Massoud pledged to lay down his arms if the Taliban guarantee freedom and equality for all citizens and form an inclusive government.
Moscow sees efforts of new Afghan authorities to establish external contacts, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"We also note statements of high-ranking Taliban [banned in Russia] official [Mawlawi] Shahabuddin Delawar where he called on foreign countries who closed down their diplomatic missions to reopen their work. This signal demonstrates the readiness of the Taliban leadership to develop ties with the international community," Zakharova told a briefing.
Turkey expects its 2016 migration deal with the European Union to be revised amid expectations of an influx of refugees from Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
Under this agreement, Turkey takes back all undocumented migrants who arrive in Greece through its territory in exchange for the accommodation of Syrian refugees in Europe on a one-for-one basis and financial aid from Brussels.
"Turkey fulfilled all its obligations under the agreement but the EU did not fulfill its obligations either because of its political stand or because of bureaucracy. We agreed to update this agreement and we submitted our proposals to the European side. A year passed but we got no response. Apparently, they decided that no one travels anywhere anyway because of the pandemic and there is no need to hurry. Then the EU decided to allocate $3 billion to Turkey for the refugees. However, this is only a decision, it has to be included in documents in order to be implemented," Cavusoglu told reporters.
The agreement has to be revised, since the "refugee problem is escalating," the Turkish foreign minister went on to say.
"Refugees are a political and economic problem. The EU has to abandon the approach 'let us give them money and no one should come to us, they should stay in Turkey'. This is not a solution. We have not yet seen a truly positive approach and proposals from Europe," Cavusoglu continued.
Turkey will not agree to accept new migrants from Afghanistan, the minister stressed.
"We have repeatedly said we cannot do it. However, we can provide assistance and provide out transport facilities for refugee transfer, for instance," Cavusoglu added.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Pakistan closed the busy Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan on 2 September, the Geo TV news channel reported, after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed expressed security concerns.
The interior chief told reporters that the second largest crossing between the two countries after Torkham might be closed for a few days after the nearby Afghan town of Spin Buldak fell to the Taliban (banned in Russia). Torkham is said to be open.
Thousands of Afghans fled the country to Pakistan over the southeastern border crossing since the Taliban captured Kabul. Pakistan was hosting more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees before the Taliban takeover.
VLADIVOSTOK (Sputnik) - Afghanistan should not become a hub for terrorist groups, measures should be implemented to curb drug trafficking, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasised.
"It is especially important for us that Afghanistan does not become a hub for a large number of terrorist groups, like it happened 20 years ago. In addition, we attach great importance to implementing energetic measures to curb drug trafficking," Peskov said in an interview with Russia's Izvestia newspaper.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Domestic flights in Afghanistan will resume on 3 September, Al-Jazeera reported on Thursday, citing the head of the country's aviation authority.
The official added that more time is required before the resumption of international flights.
Qatari technical experts are assessing the damage at the Kabul airport and are planning to bring it into operation in the near future, according to the aviation authority.
LONDON (Sputnik) – UK foreign minister Dominic Raab has traveled to Qatar to discuss with Qatari authorities a way to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan of the British nationals and Afghan staff left behind after the evacuation ended, the Foreign Office announced on 2 September.
While in Doha, Raab, who has admitted that several hundreds of people eligible to move to the UK after the Taliban (a terrorist organisation banned in Russia) takeover are still in Afghanistan, will seek Qatari views on the feasibility of a functioning airport in Kabul — either for charter or commercial flights — and the safe passage of foreign nationals and Afghans across land borders.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has taken in almost 24,000 Afghans at risk as part of evacuations from the militant-controlled country, Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said.
"Since 17 August and through31 August at midnight Eastern time, 31,107 people have arrived at – to the U.S. as part of this operation. So of that subset – which, of course, is just a small subset of the 124,000 – we understand that about 14 percent are U.S. citizens, or 4,446; about 9 percent are LPRs [legal permanent residents], 2,785; and the remaining 77 percent – 23,876 individuals – are Afghans at risk," Price told a press briefing on Wednesday.
In total, 124,000 people were brought to the US or to third countries from Afghanistan before America completed its troop withdrawal on 30 August. "Closer to 100" US legal permanent residents still remain in Afghanistan, willing to evacuate, according to Price.
Afghan refugees are hosted at US military bases, which are ready to accommodate 50,000 people.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South Africa refused to temporarily accommodate refugees from Afghanistan, who then planned to go to a third country, the country's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.
"The South African Government notes the overtures made to the country to consider receiving a number of Afghanistan refugees who have sought refuge in Pakistan. The request is that they be accommodated in South Africa en-route to their final destinations. The South African Government is unfortunately not in a position to accommodate such a request," the statement said.
"South Africa is already home to a substantial number of refugees and is seized with addressing their needs. Most of them already benefit from the Social Assistance and free medical health programmes offered by our country. In terms of international law, the well-being of the refugees is best served by remaining in the first country arrival – Pakistan – pending their final destinations," it said.