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UK’s Boris Johnson to host virtual G7 meeting on Afghanistan

CM 16/08/2021

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Taliban has declared the war in Afghanistan is over, following the successful invasion of Kabul on Sunday. Nations worldwide have reacted to the alarming news.
More than 60 countries issued a joint statement saying Afghans and international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan must be allowed to depart and added airports and border crossings must remain open, the US State Department said late Sunday.
The US government and more than 60 other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Qatar and the United Kingdom said in a joint statement that “those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility – and accountability – for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.”

It added “the Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them.” 
 Mullah Baradar Akhund, a senior official of the Taliban, seated with a group of men, makes a video statement, in this still image taken from a video recorded in an unidentified location and released on August 16, 2021 (credit: SOCIAL MEDIA/REUTERS) Mullah Baradar Akhund, a senior official of the Taliban, seated with a group of men, makes a video statement, in this still image taken from a video recorded in an unidentified location and released on August 16, 2021 (credit: SOCIAL MEDIA/REUTERS)
In addition, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the situation in Afghanistan by phone and agreed to continue consultations with China, Pakistan and the United Nations, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday.
Lavrov also spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and discussed political coordination due to the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for the region, the ministry said.
Here is how some other countries responded.

The US

US President Joe Biden will return to the White House from Camp David on Monday to deliver remarks on Afghanistan, the White House said.
The Pentagon authorized an additional 1,000 troops to help with the evacuation from Kabul, a US official said on Sunday, bringing the total number of troops expected in Afghanistan temporarily to 6,000.
 US President Joe Biden is seen during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, their security team and senior officials to obtain updates on the draw down of civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul, (credit: White house handout / Reuters) US President Joe Biden is seen during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, their security team and senior officials to obtain updates on the draw down of civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul, (credit: White house handout / Reuters)
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the additional 1,000 troops would come from the 82nd Airborne Division, which had already been on standby.
The US State Department confirmed early Monday morning that all embassy personnel were safely evacuated and are now located at Kabul Airport.
US diplomats were being ferried by helicopters to the city’s airport, where US troops are being flown in to provide security amid an exodus of Americans and their local allies and other foreigners in the face of the militants’ lightning advance.
Sources told Reuters that most US staff would be evacuated from Kabul in the coming day or two.
“We’re working to make sure that our personnel is safe and secure. We’re relocating the men and women of our embassy to a location at the airport,” Blinken said.
More US forces had been sent in to get US officials out of the country “in a safe and orderly fashion” while maintaining a “core diplomatic presence,” Blinken added. 
The United States is unlikely to change its military strategy in Kabul unless the Taliban impact the evacuation of the embassy. 
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Afghan forces have simply been unable to defend the country, that it was not in the interests of the United States to remain in Afghanistan.
Blinken said Washington had invested billions of dollars over four US administrations in Afghan government forces, giving them advantages over the Taliban, but they have failed to beat back the Taliban’s advance.
“The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that force has been unable to defend the country,” Blinken said. “And that has happened more quickly than we anticipated.”
Blinken stated that the US told the Taliban that there would be a “swift and decisive response” if it interfered with US personnel.
The US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert on Sunday that the security situation in the Afghan capital was changing quickly, including at the airport, where there were reports of gunfire as US troops aid an evacuation of most US personnel.
“There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing US citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy said.
The United States’ top focus in Afghanistan should be on safely getting US personnel and Afghans who supported the United States out of the country, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
Schumer told a press conference that he had talked repeatedly to the Biden administration in the past week about making every effort to get “brave Afghans who helped our soldiers” out of Afghanistan.


NATO is maintaining its diplomatic presence in Kabul and helping to keep the city’s airport running, the military alliance said on Sunday as Taliban insurgents entered the Afghan capital.
“NATO is helping keep Kabul airport open to facilitate and coordinate evacuations,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter.
Stoltenberg said he had discussed the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the foreign ministers of Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday and said they expected to take power within days.
A NATO official told Reuters the alliance was maintaining its diplomatic presence in Kabul. The official did not respond to questions on whether NATO planned to hold a crisis meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
“NATO is constantly assessing developments in Afghanistan,” the official said, adding that the security of the alliance’s personnel was paramount and NATO would continue to adjust as necessary.
After almost two decades, NATO this summer completed military operations in Afghanistan and withdrew most troops from the country.
The alliance still operates a diplomatic representation in Kabul. A NATO spokesperson on Friday declined to provide details on the representation, citing security concerns, in response to a Reuters request.
Headquartered in Brussels, NATO also serves as a forum to coordinate national measures in Afghanistan, such as the evacuation of citizens that was discussed by NATO ambassadors on Friday.

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to host a virtual meeting of G7 leaders to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in the coming days, he told French President Emmanuel Macron during a telephone call on Monday.
Johnson’s office said the two leaders also agreed that Britain and France should work together at the United Nations Security Council, including on a possible joint-resolution.
Britain will use all the means it has at its disposal to hold the Taliban to account in Afghanistan, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday when asked about possible sanctions against the country.
Asked how he would hold the Taliban to account, he said: “Ultimately through working with our partners through everything from the sanctions that we can apply, to the ODA (Official Development Assistance) that we will hold back, pending reform and a more inclusive government. I think there are levers.”
Asked whether he was holding out the possibility of new sanctions he said: “The question of relief of existing sanctions as well. All of the financial means at our disposal will depend on the behavior of the Taliban.”
Nobody should recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, adding it was clear that there would be a new administration in the country very shortly.
“We don’t want anybody bilaterally recognizing the Taliban,” he said in an interview clip. “We want a united position amongst all the like-minded as far as we can get one.”
Britain’s defense minister acknowledged on Monday that the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and British forces are not going to return to fight the insurgents, 
“I acknowledge that the Taliban are in control of the country,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News. “I mean, you don’t have to be a political scientist to spot that’s where we’re at.” Asked if Britain and NATO would return to Afghanistan, Wallace said: “That’s not on the cards… we’re going to go back.”
Britain’s parliament will be recalled from its summer recess on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, it posted on Twitter on Sunday. “The Speaker has granted a request from the Government to recall the House at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday 18 August, in relation to the situation in Afghanistan,” the House of Commons account tweeted.
Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan is still in Kabul and staff are doing all they can to enable Britons who wish to leave the country to do so, the Foreign Office in London said on Sunday, as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital.


Russia has set up working contacts with representatives of the new authorities in Afghanistan to ensure the safety of the Russian embassy in Kabul, the foreign ministry said on Monday. The ministry said the situation in Kabul was stabilizing and it called on all sides to refrain from violence.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday it hoped Afghanistan’s new authorities would observe fundamental human rights, the RIA news agency reported. Russia has said it will retain a diplomatic presence in Kabul and hopes to develop ties with the Taliban, although it also says it is in no rush to recognize them as the country’s rulers and will closely observe their behavior.
The Taliban on Sunday pledged to guarantee safety for the Russian embassy in Kabul.
“We have good relations with Russia and our policy, in general, is to ensure safe conditions for operations of the Russian and other embassies,” TASS quoted a Taliban official as saying.


Canada on Sunday said it was temporarily suspending its diplomatic operations in Kabul and that its personnel were on their way back home, according to a statement, as Taliban insurgents appeared within days of taking over the city.
“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving and poses serious challenges to our ability to ensure the safety and security of our mission,” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in the statement. Canadian personnel “are now safely on their way back to Canada,” he added.
Talibant militants waving Taliban flag on the back of a pickup truck drive past a crowded street at Pashtunistan Square area in Jalalabad, Afghanistan (credit: REUTERS)Talibant militants waving Taliban flag on the back of a pickup truck drive past a crowded street at Pashtunistan Square area in Jalalabad, Afghanistan (credit: REUTERS)


Armin Laschet, the CDU’s chancellor candidate at the election, said Afghanistan is NATO’s biggest fiasco since it was formed.
Germany’s military needs a strong mandate to carry out an evacuation operation in Afghanistan, he added. Laschet said the mission was “one of the more dangerous” the Bundeswehr armed forces have had to undertake and called the situation in the Afghan capital following its rapid fall to the Taliban “completely unclear”.
Germany must urgently evacuate up to 10,000 people from Afghanistan for whom its has responsibility, Chancellor Angela Merkel told party colleagues, warning that the fallout from the conflict will last for a very long time.
The remarks, made at a closed-door meeting of her Christian Democrat party on Monday and relayed by meeting participants, reflect growing concern about bloodshed in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the capital and proclaimed peace.
“We are witnessing difficult times,” Merkel said. “Now we must focus on the rescue mission.”
Merkel said those needing evacuation included 2,500 Afghan support staff as well as human rights activists, lawyers and others whom the government sees as being at risk if they remained in the country, up to 10,000 altogether.
She also said Berlin should cooperate with countries bordering Afghanistan to support those fleeing now, adding: “This topic will keep us busy for a very long time.”
Germany on Sunday shuttered its embassy in Kabul and prepared to send A400M military transport planes to Afghanistan to evacuate as many Germans and local Afghan helpers as possible after Taliban insurgents entered the Afghan capital.
“We are doing everything to enable our citizens and our former local staff to leave Afghanistan within the next days,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas told journalists on Sunday.

The Middle East

Saudi Arabia called on the Taliban and “all Afghan parties” on Monday to preserve lives and property, after the insurgents seized the capital Kabul.
A statement issued by the Saudi foreign ministry on Twitter added that the kingdom “stands with the choices that the Afghan people make without any interference,” expressing hope that the situation in the central Asian state stabilizes as soon as possible.
Bahrain will initiate consultations with the other Gulf Arab monarchies regarding the situation in Afghanistan in its capacity as current chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the kingdom’s government media office said on Monday.
“The council of ministers has tasked the foreign minister to coordinate and consult with the GCC states regarding the developments in Afghanistan, in the framework of Bahraini presidency” of the group which also includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, it said on Twitter.
Qatar, which had hosted inconclusive Afghan peace talks, is so far the only GCC country to have commented on the situation since the Taliban took control of Kabul, calling for a peaceful transition of power and a comprehensive solution. Qatar said on Monday it was doing its utmost to help evacuate diplomats and foreign staff in international organizations seeking to leave Afghanistan.
The United Arab Emirates foreign ministry on Sunday said it was working on facilitating the evacuation of foreign diplomatic staff from Afghanistan through airports in the Gulf Arab state.
“We are monitoring developments around the situation in Afghanistan and are working closely with all the relevant authorities to ensure the safe operation of our services,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
Saudi Arabia has evacuated all members of its diplomatic mission in Kabul, as the Taliban insurgents entered the Afghan capital on Sunday, state news agency SPA said.
“All members of the Kingdom’s embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been evacuated, and they have arrived home,” it said.


India will help members of Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu community to come to India, the foreign ministry said on Monday. “We are in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. We will facilitate repatriation to India of those who wish to leave Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.
India invested millions of dollars in development projects in Afghanistan and Bagchi said the government stood by the Afghans who had partnered it in that task.


Italy is committed to protecting all Afghan citizens who assisted Rome’s mission in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Monday.
In a statement, Draghi added that Rome was working with its European partners to find a solution to the crisis in Afghanistan which would protect human rights, particularly those of women.
Earlier on Monday, the first plane carrying Italian diplomats and some of their Afghan assistants flew into Rome from Kabul — part of a massive international airlift underway after the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital.
The defense ministry said in a statement around 70 people were aboard the military plane. Italian media reported that the Italian ambassador to Kabul was on the flight along with roughly 20 Afghan citizens.
The Italian foreign ministry has said it is planning other such flights, but has not given any details.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has moved its embassy in Kabul to a location close to the city’s international airport as The Hague moves quickly to evacuate its remaining Afghan translators and local staff, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, the Dutch defense ministry said it had sent a military plane to Kabul as part of efforts to evacuate remaining personnel. The Dutch government says it will keep its Kabul embassy functions open as long as possible in light of the Taliban’s rapid advances.


France will dispatch two military transport planes to the United Arab Emirates during the night and on Monday for the evacuation of French citizens in Afghanistan, the Armed Forces Ministry said Sunday in a statement. 
France is moving its Afghan embassy close to Kabul airport, adding it will remain operational for the evacuation of all French citizens who still might be in the country, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
“By order of the President of the Republic, the Armed Forces Ministry will deploy in the coming hours military reinforcements and aerial forces to the United Arab Emirates, so that the first evacuations to Abu Dhabi might begin,” Le Drian said.


Nepal calls for evacuation of at least 1,500 Nepalis in Afghanistan
Nepal’s government on Sunday called for the evacuation of an estimated 1,500 Nepalis working as security staff with embassies and with international aid groups in Afghanistan.
“We have formally written to embassies requesting them for the evacuation,” Nepal Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sewa Lamsal told Reuters in Kathmandu.
Lamsal said the government has also set up a panel to determine the exact number of Nepalis working in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan.
“The government will make arrangements for their evacuation also,” she said.
Nepal does not have a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan but thousands of Nepali men work as security guards in diplomatic districts of the country.

Albania, Kosovo

Albania and Kosovo have accepted a US request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States, the country two countries said on Sunday.
In Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama Rama said US President Joe Biden’s administration had asked fellow NATO member Albania to assess whether it could serve as a transit country for a number of Afghan refugees whose final destination is the United States.
“We will not say ‘no’, not just because our great allies ask us to, but because we are Albania,” Rama said on Facebook.
Sources had told Reuters that Biden’s administration had held discussions with such countries as Kosovo and Albania about protecting US-affiliated Afghans from Taliban reprisals until they completed the process of approval of their US visas.
In Kosovo, President Vjosa Osmani said the government had been in contact with the US authorities about housing Afghan refugees since mid-July.
“Without any hesitation and … conditioning I gave my consent to that humanitarian operation,” Osmani said on her Facebook account.
Osmani said Afghan refugees would be vetted by the US security authorities, and added they would stay in Kosovo until their documentation for US immigration visas was arranged.


Turkey on Monday evacuated civilians and its citizens from Kabul on a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul, after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital, in what some passengers described as a tense journey from the turmoil-hit country.
Thousands of civilians desperate to flee Afghanistan packed Kabul airport on Monday, prompting the U.S. military temporarily to suspend evacuations as the United States came under mounting criticism at home over its pullout.
Dogan Ozluk, a visiting lecturer at the University of Kabul, said passengers had spent the night at the airport before being brought on the evacuation flight on Monday, while others said they had to wait up three hours on the plane as troops cleared the runway of civilians.
“We were scared that the plane would not take off and that we would have to return to chaos,” said Senol Celik, a Turkish diplomatic mission staff member.
“We were scared of course, but we were sad for the people there,” he told Reuters TV.
State broadcaster TRT Haber said 324 people had been brought to Istanbul from Kabul on the evacuation flight.

European Union

European Council President Charles Michel said on Sunday the security of European Union staff and citizens was the bloc’s immediate priority, as Taliban insurgents entered the Afghan capital.
“Security of EU citizens, staff and their families is a priority in short term. Equally clear that many lessons will need to be drawn,” Michel said in a Twitter post.


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