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Milley discussed Putin offer to use Russian bases to monitor Afghanistan: report

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(Last Updated On: September 29, 2021)

US General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin to use Russia’s military bases in Central Asia to respond to emerging terrorist threats in Afghanistan, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Milley brought up the offer last week during a meeting with Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, the Journal reported, citing U.S officials. This was reportedly done at the request of President Biden’s National Security Council staff.

The idea of hosting US military personnel on Russian bases was first brought up by Putin on June 16 in Geneva, the Journal reported. National Security Council staffers had asked Milley to gain clarification on whether this was a legitimate offer or simply a debating point.

The officials told the Journal that Gerasimov was evasive when it came to committing to the offer.

The Hill has reached out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for comment. When contacted by the Journal, the Kremlin declined to comment.

Since its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US has relied on bases in the Persian Gulf region to monitor the country, leaving hundreds of miles between U.S. personnel and potential targets. During the Geneva summit, Putin voiced his opposition to American efforts to negotiate military access in Central Asian governments, instead bringing up Russian military bases as an alternative.

A White House official told the Journal that the U.S. would not be asking for Russia’s permission to place forces closer to Afghanistan, though they would seek to better understand the Russian president’s stance.

“We will pursue our own policies based on our own objectives,” said the Biden official. “The reality is Russia is an element of the equation in the region and so we are engaging with them.”

This report on Milley’s discussion with his Russian counterpart comes as he is set to face what will likely be a harsh grilling from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to face tough questioning during a Senate hearing on Tuesday focusing on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Some GOP lawmakers have called for Milley’s resignation and have also attacked him for allegations made about him in a recent book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book, “Peril,” cites sources claiming Milley sought to limit former President Trump’s military capabilities following the deadly January 6 Capitol attack.

“I think he’s going to get a grilling like he’s never seen before. And if he takes the bait and gets argumentative and defensive, it’s going to be a big problem,” a defense official told The Hill.

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Pakistan’s PM renews call for humanitarian aid for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated calls for the international community to provide urgent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Khan said in a tweet that under the UN Principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), it was obligatory to help protect people from the mass-scale humanitarian crisis left in the wake of a prolonged conflict.

“Right now millions of Afghan people are in danger of starvation,” he said adding it was the “duty of the international community to provide humanitarian assistance.”

UN agencies have warned that more than 23 million people are at risk of starvation if aid is not provided.

Earlier this month, the UN agencies launched a call for $4.5 billion in aid for 2022, its biggest-ever international appeal. The US responded with a donation of $308 million to be channeled through independent humanitarian organizations.

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IEA delegation arrives in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) arrived in Norway on Saturday (January 22) for three days of talks due to start on Sunday (January 23) on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from January 23 to January 25.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

According to the Norwegian foreign ministry, meetings will also take place between the IEA delegation and Afghan civil society members, including women leaders, journalists, and “individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues”.

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UN chief says IEA must respect human rights in order to be recognized

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Laying out his priorities for 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has to respect human rights in order to obtain international recognition.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Guterres stated that it was “absolutely essential” for the IEA “to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general” in order to obtain international recognition and “getting international support for their own people.”

“To provide a lifeline of help for the Afghan people, inject cash to avoid an economic meltdown, ensure full respect of international humanitarian law and human rights — particularly for women and girls — and effectively fight terrorism,” he said.

UN Secretary-General spoke about global issues as well. Referring to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a morally bankrupt global financial system, the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and diminished peace and security, he told the General Assembly that “we face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries.”

“Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges. Now is the time to act. All these challenges are, at heart, failures of global governance.”

On the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said, “diplomacy is the way to solve problems. Of course, any invasion by one country to another country is against international law, and I hope that this, of course, will not happen in the present circumstances. I am convinced it will not happen. And I strongly hope to be right.”

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