Thursday May 23, 2024
Thursday May 23, 2024

Kabul talks focus on Taliban-led government

2021 Aug 17, 15:30, GUELPH, Canada
US soldiers stand guard along a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the US military and officials focus was on Kabul's airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to US military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the US Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani)

Talks to expand a future Afghan government beyond only Taliban members are continuing in Kabul.

Officials close to the discussions on Tuesday are hoping for “some good news” within a day or two. They spoke on condition of anonymity because until now no one wanted details of negotiations released to the media.

Senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi has already held several rounds of talks with Kabul’s political leadership, including Abdullah Abdullah, who once headed the country’s negotiating council and former president Hamid Karzai.

At least one round of the talks went through the night. Discussion appeared to focus on how a Taliban-dominated government would respond to rights gained over the last 20 years.

The announcements of general amnesty and urging women to return to work appeared to indicate progress may have been made.

Muttaqi, a former higher education minister when the Taliban last ruled, began making contacts with Afghan political leaders even before President Ashraf Ghani secretly slipped away from the Presidential Palace on the weekend. Ghani’s departure left a devastating vacuum that Taliban who were surrounding the city strode in to fill.

Muttaqi had reached out to U.S-allied warlords prior to Kabul’s collapse seemingly starting the process of greater inclusivity in their government.

The talks underway are aimed at bringing other non-Taliban leaders into the government, which Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen earlier said would be an “inclusive Afghan government.”

Shaheen earlier told The AP a government will be announced after negotiations were completed.

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A chartered flight has flown 127 Nepalese nationals from Afghanistan who were working at the embassy of the United States and allies.

They had been first flown to Kuwait and then taken chartered flight to Kathmandu arranged by the American government.

Officials said that in Kathmandu, U.S. embassy officials received them and the Nepalese nationals were escorted by soldiers. They were to be driven later to a holding center where they would be tested for COVID-19.

They are the first group of Nepalese nationals to be rescued from Afghanistan. It is estimated there are hundreds of Nepalese nationals working in there mostly doing security work.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark is giving 100 million kroner ($16 million) for Afghanistan to be channeled through the Red Cross and the United Nations as “the situation is expected to worsen in the near future.”

Denmark’s Foreign Aid Minister Flemming Moeller Mortensen called the situation “deeply worrying.” He added in a statement Tuesday: “Even before the Taliban took power, almost half of the population was dependent on humanitarian aid, and the situation is expected to worsen in the near future.”

LONDON -- British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the government plans to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, “probably by 10%.”

Raab said the aid budget will be reconfigured for development and humanitarian purposes in Afghanistan and that the Taliban will not get any of the money previously earmarked for security.

“I don’t think we will condition the humanitarian relief we provide to ordinary Afghans on what the Taliban does,” he said.

Raab added that the aid would not be based on the Taliban meeting certain criteria, such as on governance.

That the British government is planning an “open-hearted” and “bespoke” asylum policy for Afghan citizens.

The details, he said, will be set out soon by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

NEW DELHI -- A military flight carrying Indian officials has landed in the western state of Gujarat after taking off from Kabul’s main airport.

The Press Trust of India reported the landing Tuesday after India’s foreign ministry had said the country was evacuating its ambassador and other Indian staff from Kabul. The announcement comes amid a scramble by many nations to get their diplomatic staff out of Afghanistan after the Taliban swept into power.

India’s public broadcaster reported that the plane carried more than 120 Indian officials. Another military aircraft brought home around 40 Indian diplomats and other staff on Monday, local media reported. However, India was forced to pause its repatriation efforts to bring back stranded citizens after Kabul suspended commercial operations at its airport.

The Indian government on Tuesday also announced a new electronic visa that would fast-track applications from Afghans who wish to escape to India. The foreign ministry had said it was in constant touch with Indian nationals in Afghanistan, especially those from the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan says U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called the country’s foreign minister to discuss the path forward in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s swift takeover.

The ministry’s statement Tuesday quotes Shah Mahmood Qureshi as telling Blinken by phone that an “inclusive political settlement was the best way forward” for resolving the current political impasse.

Qureshi said Pakistan would remain closely engaged with the U.S. and other international partners in promoting efforts in support of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

The latest development comes hours after Pakistan’s political and military leadership called for a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war. A defiant U.S. President Joe Biden has stood by his decision to end America’s longest war.

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the insurgents from power, but they never left.

After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed. Afghans, fearing for the future, are racing to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country.


CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government will not be able to evacuate as many Afghans from Kabul as he wanted.

Australia is sending three transport and air-to-air refueling jets with 250 military personnel to repatriate more than 130 Australians and their families from Afghanistan.

Australia also wants to evacuate hundreds of Afghans who had worked for Australian troops and diplomats in roles such as interpreters.

Morrison said he is optimistic that Australia’s evacuation operation would succeed despite the Taliban controlling Kabul.

“I want you to know that we will continue to do everything we can for those who have stood with us,” Morrison said in a message to 39,000 Australian military personnel who served in Afghanistan.

He added that “support won’t reach all that it should.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said “several hundred” Afghans who had worked for Australia remained in Afghanistan. Australia has resettled 430 since April.


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