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Biden picks career diplomat for top posting in Pakistan

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate Donald Blome, currently ambassador to Tunisia, as his top diplomat in Pakistan as Washington works to manage the situation in neighboring Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops.

Biden on Tuesday will announce plans to nominate Blome to the job in Pakistan, the White House said. Blome is a career Foreign Service diplomat with long experience in the region who once worked in the Kabul embassy, shuttered earlier this year during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is playing a major role in diplomacy with its neighbor.

International agencies have warned that Afghanistan is on the verge of humanitarian collapse without access to aid or foreign reserves, which remain frozen in the United States.

Pakistan’s relationship with neighboring China has also been of interest to the Biden administration, which regards Beijing as its chief international rival.

Tunisia, where Blome has worked as ambassador since 2019, is an important diplomatic outpost for the United States in North Africa, representing interests beyond the country’s borders, including in neighboring Libya.

The ambassadorial position requires Senate confirmation.

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Three Russian aircraft with humanitarian aid arrive in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Three Russian aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday carrying 36 tonnes of humanitarian aid, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

All three Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would also evacuate Russian citizens, as well as citizens of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states, Russia’s Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

“Some three Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifters of the Russian Defense Ministry have delivered humanitarian aid to the Kabul airport and are boarding evacuees for departure from Afghanistan,” the statement read.

A total of over 380 Russians, citizens of the CSTO member states (mainly Kyrgyzstan), and Afghan students from Russian universities will fly out on the departing planes, the ministry said.

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India considers re-opening mission in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

As countries slowly start reopening their embassies in Kabul, India is also reportedly considering the possibility of re-staffing its mission in Afghanistan.

So far, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all have a diplomatic presence in the country.

Japan and the EU have also discussed the possibility of returning to Afghanistan.

One senior Indian official told The Hindu on Wednesday that “establishing a presence in Afghanistan has nothing to do with recognition [of the IEA government]. It simply means that you would like to have people on the ground dealing with the new regime, to continue engagement with the people.”

He said the Modi government is not convinced about the need to re-open its mission, but that discussions are continuing on what India’s strategy should be, The Hindu reported.

At present, the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which was evacuated within two days of the IEA talking control, is intact and being guarded by IEA forces.

While calls from within the country to reopen grow, officials told The Hindu that much depends on what India’s other partners and friendly countries choose to do.

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Saudi Arabia reopens consular section of embassy in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Saudi Arabia announced that it has reopened the consular section of its embassy in Kabul as of Tuesday in order to provide consular services to Afghan citizens.

This latest move has been welcomed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

“We welcome them, appreciate this profound step by the Saudi government and view it as start of good relations,” said Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the foreign ministry.

According to Balkhi a 14-member diplomatic team from Saudi Arabia returned to Kabul on Tuesday, and resumed consular activities.

This comes after the UAE recently reopened its embassy in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, IEA deputy minister and spokesman announced last week that the reopening of the UAE embassy was a “good step.”

The UAE was one of only a few country’s that recognized the IEA government in the 1990s, along with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Last week Takashi Okada, Japan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said his country has also decided to reopen its embassy in Kabul after the new government ensured Tokyo of its security.

Enamullah Samangani, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s deputy spokesman said that Takashi Okada raised the issue during a meeting with Abdul Kabir, the IEA’s political deputy prime minister in Kabul.

According to him, the Japanese ambassador to Afghanistan has said that his country continues to support the Afghan people and is ready to work with the IEA on this issue.

Since taking power in mid-August, the IEA has repeatedly called on foreign countries to reopen their embassies after most missions evacuated staff and closed their doors during the chaos that surrounded the US troops withdrawal process.

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