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Biden confirms troop draw down to start on May 1

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday night officially confirmed that American troops withdrawal from Afghanistan will start on May 1.

He said the withdrawal process would be finished by September 11 – the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

Biden said: “It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home from Afghanistan.”

He said the US will begin its withdrawal on May and that it will not be a “hasty rush to the exit.”

He stated that if the Taliban attacks, the US will defend itself and partners with “all the tools at our disposal.”

Biden said that while the US will not stay in Afghanistan militarily it will continue to stand by the Afghans and assist with humanitarian needs and will continue to support women in the country.

He also said the US will call on countries in the region, including Pakistan, to do more for Afghanistan.

He said America went in to Afghanistan 20 years ago after being attacked and that 10 years ago the threat of Osama bin Laden was eliminated but that they stayed for another 10 years.

According to him, a close review of their presence in Afghanistan was done in consultation with a wide array of stakeholders but that the US now needs to focus on new threats along with other challenges including the coronavirus pandemic.

He said “we will reorganize counter-terrorism” initiatives and Washington will focus its full attention on terrorism threats wherever they arise – “not only in Afghanistan”.

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NATO foreign ministers to discuss lessons learned in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that foreign ministers will next week discuss the organization’s engagement in Afghanistan and “identify the right lessons for future crisis management operations”.

Outlining the priorities to be discussed at the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Riga, Latvia, from Tuesday, Stoltenberg said: “Following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and armed forces in Afghanistan in August, I launched a comprehensive assessment of our engagement.”

He said NATO went into Afghanistan “to prevent terrorists from using the country again to attack us.

“And since 9/11, there has been no terrorist attack against our countries from Afghanistan.

“But we must recognize that over the years, the international community set a level of ambition that went well beyond the original aim of fighting terrorism.

“And on that, we were not able to deliver. Despite our sacrifice and considerable investment,” he said adding that he expects ministers to discuss this and to “identify the right lessons for our future crisis management operations”.

Stoltenberg also noted that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan “is dire, dire, and very difficult and this is of course of great concern for all of us. And winter is coming. And we know that many people are at risk of suffering and having a very difficult time throughout the winter.”

He said he welcomed moves by NATO Allies to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which he said was “extremely important and something which demonstrates the will, and the commitment, of NATO Allies to continue to support the people of Afghanistan.”

He also touched on Pakistan and said: “NATO has had regular contacts with Pakistan for many, many years. Of course, not least discussing the situation in Afghanistan. We have political contacts, we have regular military contacts and dialogue and I think this is important that this continues because there are still many challenges in the region, especially related to the future of Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg also said the ministers will address the continuing build-up of Russian forces in and around Ukraine, saying: “It raises tensions and it risks miscalculation. Russia must show transparency, reduce tensions and de-escalate. NATO’s approach to Russia remains unchanged. We keep our defense and deterrence strong while remaining open for dialogue.”

NATO Foreign Ministers will also address the migrant “situation on the border with Belarus and the Lukashenko regime’s exploitation of vulnerable people”.

Other issues that will be discussed include NATO’s next Strategic Concept. He said: “It needs to take account of new realities, including Russia’s aggressive actions, a more assertive China, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the security impact of climate change. It will drive our continued adaptation in a more competitive world.”

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EU calls for support of Afghans to prevent economic and social collapse

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(Last Updated On: November 27, 2021)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday the EU must support the people of Afghanistan “to prevent imminent economic and social collapse that the country faces.”

Speaking during the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the European Union’s chief executive said it was crucial for the EU to avoid “imminent economic and social collapse” in Afghanistan, despite not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leadership.

Last month, the European Union announced a humanitarian package worth 1 billion Euro for the Afghan people and neighboring countries, including a 300 million Euro in humanitarian aid.

Speaking from Phnom Penh during the summit’s closing ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called on ASEM and its partners to strengthen the partnership between Asia and Europe.

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Thousands take exams for Turkish-run schools in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

Thousands of Afghan students, including girls under grade 7, took entrance exams on Friday for a Turkish foundation in Kabul that runs some of Afghanistan’s most highly regarded schools.

As many as 3,600 students sat the highly competitive exams for the Afghan-Turk school system, Afghan-Turk School’s officials said.

“We want all girls to be educated. This is our president’s and our government’s wish and that of Afghans,” the Educational Councillor at Kabul’s Turkish Embassy, Changez Idmir, said at a news conference to mark the holding of the entrance tests.

Facing mounting global pressure, the IEA has said they will allow older girls to resume classes once arrangements are made to ensure they can do so in conformity with what the movement considers proper Islamic standards.

Afghan-Turk schools are regarded among the top schools in Afghanistan and admission is highly competitive.

Unofficially, many parts of the country have seen older girls restart classes, while officially the IEA says they are still working on a national system.

Ehsan Khateb, Head of Kabul Education Department, also attended the ceremony and thanked the Turkish government.

Afghan-Turk schools have had to make changes to their curriculum, shutting music, theatre, and dance departments at the request of IEA officials, the head of the Turkish educational foundation, Salleh Saghar, told Reuters.

The foundation respected the rules and culture of the host country, he said.

“Like the music, theatre, and dancing department … based on Taliban (IEA) requests we closed the departments,” he said, and it was for the IEA government to decide if they would reopen.

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