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At UN Biden promises ‘relentless diplomacy,’ not Cold War

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden mapped out a new era of vigorous competition without a new Cold War despite China’s ascendance during his first United Nations address on Tuesday, promising military restraint and a robust fight against climate change.

The United States will help resolve crises from Iran to the Korean Peninsula to Ethiopia, Biden told the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering.

The world faces a “decisive decade,” Biden said, one in which leaders must work together to combat a raging coronavirus pandemic, global climate change and cyber threats. He said the United States will double its financial commitment on climate aid and spend $10 billion to reduce hunger globally.

Biden did not utter the words “China” or “Beijing” but sprinkled implicit references to America’s increasingly powerful authoritarian competitor throughout his speech, as the two nations butt heads in the Indo-Pacific and on trade and human rights issues.

He said the United States will compete vigorously, both economically and to push democratic systems and rule of law.

“We’ll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technical exploitation or disinformation. But we’re not seeking – I’ll say it again – we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” Biden said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who told the U.N. Tuesday that China would not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, used his video address to obliquely criticize the U.S. as well.

“Recent developments in the global situation show once again that military intervention from the outside and so-called democratic transformation entail nothing but harm,” Xi said.

Biden came to the United Nations facing criticism at home and abroad for a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that left some Americans and Afghan allies still in that country and struggling to get out.

Biden’s emphasis on allied unity is being tested by a three-way agreement among the United States, Australia and Britain that undermined a French submarine deal and left France feeling stabbed in the back.

Biden met Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in New York and was to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House later in the day. His staff has been trying to arrange a phone call between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron to try to cool tempers over the submarine deal.

“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy,” Biden said.

The United States would defend its national interests, Biden said, but “the mission must be clear and achievable,” and the American military “must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world.”

Biden, a Democrat, hoped to present a compelling case that the United States remains a reliable ally to its partners around the world after four years of “America First” policies pursued by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Republicans pounced on Biden with sharp criticism.

“President Biden’s speech today does not match his actions. His failed leadership led to the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan that abandoned our partners, angered our NATO allies and emboldened our adversaries,” said U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican.

Biden said that he remains committed to peacefully resolving a dispute with Iran over its nuclear program. He vowed to defend U.S. ally Israel but said a two-state solution with the Palestinians is still needed but a distant goal.

He said the United States wants “sustained diplomacy” to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea has rejected U.S. overtures to engage in talks.

Discussing oppression of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, Biden singled out China’s Xinjiang region where rights groups estimate that one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been interned in camps.

In response to Biden’s reference to Xinjiang, China’s mission to the United Nations, told Reuters: “It’s completely groundless. We totally reject. The U.S. should pay more attention to its own human rights problems.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who begins a second five-year term at the helm of the world body on January 1, warned earlier of the dangers of the growing gap between China and the United States, the world’s largest economies.

“I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence – and ultimately two different military and geopolitical strategies,” Guterres said.

“This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War,” Guterres said.

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IEA faces serious challenges that need to be addressed: Mullah Yaqoob

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, acting defense minister, on Wednesday said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is facing serious challenges which need to be addressed.

Addressing an event at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan 400 bed Military hospital in Kabul, Mullah Yaqoob said Afghans have suffered for 40 years.

“These serious problems have been ongoing for many years. There are problems. There is chaos, everything is not good,” said Mullah Yaqoob.

In his first appearance before the media, he also called on businessmen to invest in the country’s health sector.

“Traders should invest in the health sector, so Afghans don’t have to go to other countries for treatment,” he added.

The acting minster of public health meanwhile, called on the world to continue providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

“In the health sector, deep reforms should be brought,” said Qallandar Abad, acting minster of public health.

Some doctors meanwhile called on the IEA to take the needs of health workers into consideration.

“We urge the minister of public health to not exclude our military doctors from their lists to receive money for salaries and medical equipment,” said Tahir Ahrar, a military commander.

This comes amid serious warnings by health officials that the country’s health sector is on the verge of collapse.

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Iran urges support for Afghanistan to ward off threat of terrorism

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday evening after the meeting on Afghanistan that humanitarian and economic support should be provided to Afghanistan so that insurgent groups do not use the current crisis to recruit soldiers.

Addressing a press conference after the foreign minister’s meeting on Afghanistan in Tehran, Abdollahian said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is a reality and they are running the interim government and should be encouraged to work towards the establishment of an inclusive government.

Abdollahian said delegates attending the meeting insisted that Afghanistan’s central bank assets be released for the sake of the country’s economy.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, meanwhile told delegates he was “deeply concerned” about human rights abuses and attacks in Afghanistan since the IEA took control.

In a pre-recorded video message, the UN Secretary-General said that Afghanistan was facing a growing humanitarian crisis that needed immediate action.

Guterres recalled the UN’s engagement with the IEA to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

Moscow meanwhile has consistently advocated for the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan and has no plans to impose its recommendations on the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a video address.

“Russia is not inclined to impose its advice or recommendations on anyone. Moreover, history itself offers effective ways to solve problems. It’s vital to take the interests of the country’s major ethnic and political forces into account to the fullest extent possible,” he said.

“This is why we have been firmly and consistently supporting the creation of a truly inclusive Afghan government,” he stated.

“The people need to be sure that their rights and legitimate aspirations will be implemented through action, not just words, and will also be protected by law, certainly based on respect for local traditions and customs,” Lavrov explained.

On the other hand, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated that IEA officials want efficient engagement with the international community.

The people of Afghanistan are facing a severe economic situation, and their money should be released by other countries, he added.

In addition, Qureshi stressed that there must be a joint fight against terrorism at the regional level because the activities of terrorist groups are a threat to the region.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that IEA officials are eager to have dialogue with the rest of the world, and the international community should help Afghanistan with its development.

In an address delivered by video link to conference participants, Wang said Beijing was ready to host further talks between Afghanistan and its neighbours on the country’s future.

“The Taliban (IEA) are eager to have dialogue with the world … China will host the third Neighbours of Afghanistan meeting at the appropriate time,” Wang said in comments broadcast live by Iranian state TV.

The meeting of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries was attended in person by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and China and Russia participated by video link.

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IEA eager for dialogue with the world: China’s Wang Yi

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials are eager to have dialogue with the rest of the world, and the international community should help Afghanistan with its development, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

In an address delivered by video link to a conference in Iran on Afghanistan, Wang said Beijing was ready to host further talks between Afghanistan and its neighbours on the country’s future.

“The Taliban (IEA) are eager to have dialogue with the world … China will host the third Neighbours of Afghanistan meeting at the appropriate time,” Wang said in comments broadcast live by Iranian state TV.

The meeting of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries was attended in person by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and China and Russia participated by video link.

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