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Blinken visits Kabul in a show of support after troop withdrawal announcement

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(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, flew into Kabul on Thursday where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), in a show of support following the announcement Wednesday of the total withdrawal of all foreign troops by September.

On Wednesday night US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced all troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan by September 11. The drawdown will however start on May 1.

According to the Presidential Palace (ARG), Blinken told Ghani on Wednesday in a meeting: “The withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan will not mean the weakening of strategic relations between the two countries.”

“The United States will honor its commitments to the government and people of Afghanistan,” he said.

According to ARG, Blinken said the United States would continue its diplomatic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to Afghan forces and will continue its efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting with Abdullah, Blinken said: “We have a partnership that is changing but enduring” and “as the [US] president says, we have a new chapter but it’s a new chapter that we’re writing together.”

On Wednesday night 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 1 and that it will not be a “hasty rush to the exit.”

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

The announcement was not however welcomed by the Taliban who issued a veiled threat to the US and NATO in a statement on Thursday.

The group said the US decision to pull out of Afghanistan starting May 1 is in violation of the agreement signed between the two parties in Doha last year. The Taliban stated it “is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement and non-compliance with its commitments.”

Because of the extended stay in Afghanistan, the Taliban said it would “take every necessary countermeasure, hence the American side will be held responsible for all future consequences.”

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Muttaqi calls on international community to recognize IEA government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Foreign acting Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi accused the international community on Friday (October 15) of “violating the rights of Afghan people” by not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

Speaking to Reuters on the second day of a two-day visit to Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Muttaqi said he discussed the recognition of the IEA’s government with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as well.

“The fact that all of them are recognized and the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is not recognized is an injustice and oppression of the Afghan people… Afghanistan wants positive relations with the world and the world must respond positively to this message,” he said.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and IEA forces swept into Kabul, the IEA administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the IEA has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the workforce and education of girls.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity.

“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Cavusoglu said.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and have urged those countries to increase engagement.

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Blast targets mosque in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

A large explosion ripped through a mosque in the southern Kandahar province on Friday afternoon.

The blast happened at the Shi’ite Fatimiya mosque during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties.

Sources said at least 34 people were killed and 69 others wounded in the explosion. Afghan officials have not confirmed the casualties so far.

Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, has told Reuters that authorities were collecting details of the explosion.

The blast took place days after a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State on a Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed and wounded more than 200 people.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast, coming so soon after the Kunduz attack underlined the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Islamic State has stepped up operations following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.

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Turkey underlines need for inclusive Afghan government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

In talks with the delegation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey on Thursday reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity, Reuters reported.

Turkey repeated its advice to the visiting IEA delegation on girls’ education and women’s employment in business life, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference following a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara.

Muttaqi led an IEA delegation for an official visit to Turkey to discuss bilateral issues as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

The IEA officials have pledged to provide the utmost support to Afghan refugees who want to return to the country from Turkey, added Cavusoglu.

He also underlined that the IEA delegation conveyed requests to Turkey during the meeting, especially on humanitarian aid and continued investment in Afghanistan.

Last month, Cavusoglu said Turkey has contributed to stabilization and development efforts in Afghanistan, including on the education of girls and empowerment of women since the 1920s, adding that Ankara continues providing humanitarian aid through the Turkish Red Crescent.

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