MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Deputy Director of the Political Office of the Taliban movement (banned in Russia) Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has discussed the reconstruction of Afghanistan among other issues with the Pakistani ambassador to Qatar, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.
"Sher M. Abbas Stanikzai, Deputy Director of the Political Office and his delegation met Pakistan Ambassador to Qatar and his delegation. Both sides discussed the current Afghan situation, humanitarian assistance, bilateral relations based on mutual interest and respect, reconstruction of Afghanistan and issues related to facilitating people’s movement at Torkhan and Spinboldak," Shaheen wrote on his Twitter page on late Friday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is not planning to meet with representatives from the Taliban (banned in Russia) during his stop in Doha, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Dean Thompson said.
“There are currently no plans to do any meetings with the Taliban in Doha,” Thompson said during a press briefing on Friday.
Thompson noted that the United States is taking the same approach to high-level engagement with the Taliban as is with recognizing any government led by the terror group.
In addition, the United States has emphasized that it wants to see evidence the Taliban is living up to its commitments of respecting human rights and forming an inclusive government, among others, he said.
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel next week to Geneva, Switzerland, to hold a ministerial meeting in response to the growing humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
"As the United Nations continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, the Secretary-General will travel to Geneva to convene on September 13 a high-level ministerial humanitarian meeting to address the growing needs in the country," Dujarric said on Friday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - About 100 Afghan evacuees out of the more than 30,000 people who have arrived to the United States from Afghanistan have been flagged for possible ties to the Taliban or other terrorist groups, NBC News reported citing two sources familiar with the US evacuation.
The report said on Friday that two evacuees from the group of 100 who were flagged by US officials will be sent to Kosovo for further background investigations.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Italy has pledged to reopen its embassy in Kabul after its staff was evacuated in the wake of the Taliban (banned in Russia) takeover, spokesman for the Taliban political office Mohammad Naeem said on Friday.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday that it was preliminary to speak about reopening the embassy in the Afghan capital, citing poor security conditions in the city.
"Today, the political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the self-name of the Taliban political system] ... held a meeting with the representative of Italian Prime Minister [Mario Draghi] ... Italy promised to reopen its embassy in Afghanistan," Naeem tweeted.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press briefing on Friday that he will head to Qatar on Sunday.
“In a couple of days on Sunday, I’ll be heading to Doha where I’ll meet with Qatari leaders to express our deep gratitude for all what they are doing to support the evacuation effort,” Blinken said.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said the Treasury Department has issued licenses to American agencies, contractors, grant recipients to maintain humanitarian aid to Afghanistan despite sanctions against the Taliban terror group (banned in Russia).
“The US Treasury Department has issued specific licenses to allow US government agencies, contractors and grant recipients to continue to provide critical and life-saving humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan, despite sanctions on the Taliban,” Blinken told a press briefing.
The US has admitted more than 40,000 individuals evacuated from Afghanistan, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said during remarks about Operation Allies Welcome on Friday.
“Here in the United States, we have admitted just over 40,000 individuals. That includes US citizens, lawful permanent residents, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, and other vulnerable Afghan nationals such as journalists and vulnerable women and girls,” Mayorkas said.
Approximately 13 percent of the 40,000 individuals were US citizens, 8 percent lawful permanent residents, and 79 percent Special Immigrant Visa holders, applicants, or other vulnerable Afghan nationals, he added.
Among those admitted were a small number of unaccompanied minors, whom Mayorkas said would be receiving humanitarian assistance with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Biden administration plans to spend up to $2,275 for each evacuee from Afghanistan, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs reported on Friday.
Tokyo will assess ties with the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) based on the path they follow regarding human rights policy and other points of contention, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday.
"Human rights will be respected more? Freedom, liberty will be respected more? Is that the kind of a society they are going to develop?... We have to watch what they do, what the Taliban does, and then we have a right to make a judgment," the diplomat said.
The Taliban seized the Afghan capital of Kabul on August 15, leading to a collapse of the US-backed authorities. The movement declared that foreign evacuation operations and the exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan were to be completed by August 31, after which the Kabul Airport, which has served as a point of departure for evacuation flights, came under the control of the Taliban.
In the wake of the military takeover, Japan relocated its embassy in Kabul to the Qatari capital of Doha, which also hosts the movement's political office.
Amrullah Saleh, a vice president in Ashraf Ghani's collapsed government, accused the Taliban (banned in Russia) on Friday of running people in the holdout Panjshir region over landmine fields.
"Talibs are committing war crimes and have zero respect for international human rights. We call on UN and world leaders to take notice of this clear criminal and terrorist behavior of the Talibs," he tweeted.
Saleh, who declared himself acting president after escaping to the Panjshir valley north of Kabul, said that Taliban had blocked humanitarian access and medicine shipments to the area, and cut phone service and electricity.
The Taliban began an operation this week to capture the valley in the Hindu Kush mountains, the last pocket of resistance where remaining ex-government troops gathered after the militant group overran Kabul in mid-August.
The United Kingdom is sending 30 million pounds ($41 million) in assistance to countries neighbouring Afghanistan which shelter Afghan refugees seeking asylum after the Taliban (designated terrorist and banned in Russia) takeover, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday.
"We are sending up to 30 million pounds of life-saving support to Afghanistan's neighbours and that will include Pakistan so that there is the money to provide the basics: the shelter, the household necessities, the sanitation for those who come across the border," Raab said at a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The UK wants to engage Afghanistan's neighbours in a strategic initiative to secure safe passage for refugees, in which "regional partners are going to be absolutely key to forging a way forward and Pakistan's support there will be vital," Raab said.
He confirmed that the UK has doubled its humanitarian aid budget for Afghanistan and the region this year to 286 million pounds.
Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, the UK has evacuated more than 15,000 people. Alongside fellow permanent UN Security Council members the United States and France, the UK spearheaded the adoption of Resolution 2593 on Afghanistan on Monday, which calls for safe passage and greater international humanitarian aid for refugees.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Friday on the Taliban (a terrorist organization, banned in Russia) and the Afghan resistance forces, based in the province of Panjshir, to resolve their disagreements via dialogue.
"Unfortunately, despite the efforts of reformers [Afghan politicians] in recent days, hostilities and military operations started in Panjshir, which sparks deep concerns, and I do not think that their consequences meet the interests of the country and the people. That is why I call on both sides to admit that a war is not only not a solution but also a refreshing of the wounds of suffering and wounded Afghanistan, and brings misfortune," Karzai tweeted.
له بده مرغه په دې ورستیو ورځو کې د مصلحینو د هڅو سره سره په پنجشیر کې پوځي عملیات او جگړه پیل شوه چې د ژورې اندیښنې وړ ده او عواقب یې د هېواد او خلکو په گټه نه بولم.— Hamid Karzai (@KarzaiH) September 3, 2021
په همدې دلیل پر دواړو وروڼو خواوو ږغ کوم چې جگړه نه یوازې چې د حل لاره نده، بلکې د ټپي او دردېدلي افغانستان …
The ex-president expressed hope that the sides would end hostilities and engage in candid dialogue to reach "complete peace and happiness."
Panjshir, the only Afghan province that has not fallen to the Taliban, has become the stronghold of the National Resistance Front. Earlier this week, the Taliban surrounded the province. On Thursday, Afghan media reported that the movement decided to launch an offensive in Panjshir after negotiations with resistance leader Ahmad Massoud failed.
Doha expects the air corridors for deliveries of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to be available in the next 24-48 hours, as Qatari experts have repaired some equipment at the Kabul airport, the Qatari Foreign Ministry’s special envoy on counterterrorism and conflict resolution, Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, said on Friday.
The Qatari diplomat is the first foreign official to arrive in Kabul after the United States and its allies pulled out their troops from Afghanistan.
"Technical experts were able to restore some of the equipment at Kabul airport in the past 48 hours, including one of the radars, we look forward to opening air corridors to deliver humanitarian aid to Kabul airport and other Afghan airports within 24-48 hours," Al Qahtani said.
The Afghan Embassy in Russia provided on Friday its first comment after the change of power in Kabul, it said it is receiving much evidence of violence by the Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia).
"The Afghan society is shocked by what is happening in the country. The embassy receives many letters with links to videos featuring terrible actions by the Taliban. The global community must see and be aware of what is happening in Afghanistan," the embassy said in a letter, seen by Sputnik.
The date of the announcement about the composition of the new Afghan government is uncertain, the delay is related to technical problems, Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia) spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Friday.
The spokesman denied claims that the Taliban will make the announcement after the Friday prayers.
"This is not true. The date of the announcement about the government has not been determined yet. But I can say that the new cabinet of ministers will be presented in the near future," Karimi said.
Consultations have been completed, and the delay is related "exclusively to technical problems", Karimi added.
The Taliban spokesman assured that the "new government will represent all Afghans and all Afghans will participate in it." At the same time, Karimi refused to confirm reports that Taliban political office chief Abdul Ghani Baradar was appointed as the prime minister.
Moscow has no intention to supply weapons to the new Afghan authorities, Russian Ambassador in Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said in an interview with Sputnik.
"No, this is not being discussed," Zhirnov said.
Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that Moscow is considering humanitarian deliveries to Kabul.
The European Union will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with neighbours of Afghanistan, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Friday.
“EU will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan neighbours. This will be built on the already existing broad relations of the EU and member states with these countries and this political platform will consider among other issues, management of population flows from Afghanistan,” Borrell said at a press conference following the informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Slovenia.
Russian Ambassador in Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov expressed the belief, in his interview with Sputnik, that operation of the international airport in Kabul could be fully restored within a month.
"As I understand, two Qatari technical groups are operating there. Already on Friday, the Kabul airport is launching domestic flights. In particular, the Ariana airline, the one that performed direct flights to Russia until June resumes flights to Mazar-i-Sharif, to the north of the country, bordering Uzbekistan. I have talked to some ambassadors, they believe if experienced experts take this up, everything will be restored quite quickly ... I believe, it will take less than a month," Zhirnov said.
The first internal flight from the Kabul airport — to Mazar-i-Sharif — after the Taliban (banned in Russia) came to power was cancelled on Friday, Al-Jazeera reported, citing a source in the Afghan aviation authority.
"The first domestic flight, after the Americans left, to Mazar-i-Sharif was cancelled," the source said, without providing any more details.
The European Union will have to engage with the new Afghan authorities in order to support the local population but this is only operational engagement that does not mean recognition of the Taliban (banned as a terrorist organization in Russia), EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Friday.
"In order to support the Afghan population we will have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which doesn't mean recognition, it's an operational engagement. The operational engagement will increase depending on the behavior of this government," Borrell said at a press conference following the informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Slovenia.
The Afghan resistance forces, based in the province of Panjshir, said that the statement by the Taliban (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) that it had seized the Shotul district in the province was false, the Khaama Press reported.
The media outlet cited Fahim Dashti, a spokesman of Afghanistan’s Northern Resistance Front, as saying that the resistance forces had repulsed the Taliban, killing dozens of the movement’s militants in the encounter.
On Thursday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Sputnik that the movement had captured several districts and four checkpoints in Panjshir, with at least 31 fighters of the resistance forces, including three commanders, killed during the clashes.
The Panjshir province, the stronghold of the National Resistance Front, headed by Ahmad Massoud, was surrounded by the Taliban. Massoud pledged to step down in case the Islamist movement forms an inclusive government and guarantees equal rights for all Afghans. The Taliban-Panjshir negotiations have yielded no results so far, raising the possibility of armed clashes.
Afghanistan's northern province of Panjshir and parts of Kapisa province were left without electricity after at least two electricity pylons were destroyed in a shelling during the continuing clashes, local power utility company DABS said on Friday.
"As clashes continue on the Panjshir road, two electricity pylons were destroyed ... as they were hit by an artillery shell. which resulted in power outage in the province," DABS said in a statement, adding that some districts across Kapisa were also affected.
DABS staffers are ready to begin technical effort to restore electricity as soon as "suitable conditions are in place," the company added.
"We do see the importance of being able to engage and having a direct line of communication," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday, as quoted by Reuters.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday launched an appeal for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to provide a safe haven to Afghan journalists after the US-led coalition completed troop withdrawal from the militant-controlled nation.
"Journalists in Afghanistan are in need of crucial support at this critical juncture in history. Therefore, the IFJ urges the SAARC governments to provide necessary supports including visas, safe houses and other logistical measures at this time of severe humanitarian crisis," the IFJ said in a release.
After Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and the civilian government collapsed on August 15, there has been grave concern over free reporting and safety of journalists, especially female ones. More than 90 media outlets are said to have shut down.
In addition, the Taliban detained a Pakistani journalist and his photographer in late August for reporting without authorization, but later released them. Another Pakistani journalist was reported to have gone missing, but was later traced to Kabul after being arrested.
The IFJ and its affiliates said they had received over 2,000 please of help from media workers seeking to flee Afghanistan, receive refuge or financial support.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) started selling flights tickets to Kabul from 13 September, a Sputnik correspondent reported on Friday.
It is currently possible to purchase flight tickets for 13, 15 and 16 September.
A plane with officials from the United Arab Emirates will arrive in Kabul in the next few minutes, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the head of the Taliban cultural commission’s multimedia branch, said on Friday.
"The first plane of the United Arab Emirates will arrive in a few minutes," Muttaqi tweeted, adding that the UAE officials plan to meet with representatives of the Taliban movement.
Afghanistan under the Taliban hopes to continue cooperation as part of China's Belt and Road infrastructure project, Abdul Salam Hanafi, the deputy head of the Taliban political office, told China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao.
The two held a phone call on Thursday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and issues of common interest. China confirmed its plans to keep its embassy in Kabul open.
The Taliban representative, in turn, reiterated Afghanistan's friendly attitude toward China and its willingness to prevent any forces from using Afghan soil to threaten China. The Islamist movement pledged to take measures to protect Chinese missions and citizens in Afghanistan.
"Cooperation as part of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative will promote development and prosperity of Afghanistan and the region. Afghanistan hopes to continue actively supporting and participating in this cooperation," Hanafi said, as quoted by the Chinese ministry.
Belt and Road is China's international infrastructure project seeking to promote cooperation between Beijing and over 60 of its trading partners in Asia, Africa and Europe.
One of the reasons for a delay in announcing the formation of Afghanistan’s new government is a disagreement between the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a source close to the Taliban said on Friday.
"One of the reasons for the delay in the announcement of the official government is the disagreement between the Taliban and the Haqqani Network," the source said.
The Taliban movement has captured several districts and four checkpoints in the Panshir province, held by resistance forces, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Sputnik on Friday.
The spokesman added that at least 31 fighters of the resistance forces, including three commanders, were killed during the clashes.