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NATO forces to leave together from Afghanistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)

A coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned U.S. withdrawal by September 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels on Wednesday.

His remarks came ahead of a formal announcement of the end of two decades of fighting.

Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but still rely on U.S. air support, planning and leadership for their training mission, Reuters reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels that it was time for NATO allies to make good on its mantra that allies went into Afghanistan together and would leave together.

“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.

“We will work very closely together in the months ahead on a safe, deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan,” Blinken said, standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg,

NATO foreign and defence ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference. A senior NATO diplomat told Reuters that no ally was expected to oppose U.S. President Joe Biden’s formal announcement, expected later on Wednesday, for a complete U.S. withdrawal of troops by Sept. 11.

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Australian cricketers flee India for Maldives after IPL abandoned

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Australian cricketers playing in this year’s IPL fled COVID-ravaged India for the Maldives Thursday, but New Zealand’s top stars are stuck in Delhi until May 11, the earliest they can secure exemptions to enter England where they are due to play a Test series.

AFP reports that cricket authorities have been rushing to evacuate players and support staff after the Indian Premier League was abandoned this week.

India reported 3,980 deaths and more than 412,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

While most overseas-based players headed home, the Australians, including Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins, are unable to do so after Canberra closed its borders and threatened anyone entering from India with jail time.

They must wait until at least May 15, when the travel ban will be reviewed.

In the meantime, the 37 players, coaches, officials and TV commentators left for the Maldives, reportedly on a charter flight arranged and paid for by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association can confirm Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators have been safely transported from India and are en route to the Maldives,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

“The Australians will remain in the Maldives until the conclusion of the travel pause pertaining to flights from India to Australia.”

They are likely to be chartered back to Australia once the ban has been lifted, again with the help of the BCCI.

But Chennai Super Kings batting coach Mike Hussey was not among the travelling party, forced to remain in isolation after testing positive to the virus.

Cricket Australia said he was “experiencing mild symptoms” and would remain in the care of the Super Kings until it was safe for him to return to Australia.

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Stoltenberg says NATO allies looking at how to provide support in ‘new chapter’

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Speaking at a meeting of European Union Defence Ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the drawdown of NATO’s Resolute Training mission was underway, but said the end of NATO’s mission does not mean the end of the Alliance’s relationship with Afghanistan.

Allies are looking at how they can continue to provide financial and training support to Afghan forces, Stoltenberg said.

He also said NATO has sent a strong message to the Taliban “that any attack on NATO troops will be met with a forceful response.

“The drawdown of NATO troops and the end of the Resolute Support Mission is not the end to our partnership with Afghanistan. It is actually opening up a new chapter,” he said.

“We are now looking into how we can continue to provide support. We are looking at ways to provide financial support, support with training and also supporting the national community in Afghanistan.”

“NATO of course strongly supported the peace process and a negotiated peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is the best way to maintain the achievements we have made together over the last (two) decades,” Stoltenberg said.

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Former TV anchor assassinated in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2021)

Nemat Rawan, a former TV anchor currently working for the Ministry of Finance, was killed in an armed attack by at least two gunmen in Kandahar on Thursday, officials confirmed.

Kandahar police said that Rawan was assassinated in PD14 of Kandahar city.

His relatives also confirmed the shooting.

Rawan worked in the media department at the Ministry of Finance but until recently was a program anchor for TOLOnews.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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