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Pentagon says US, Turkey working out details of Kabul airport mission



(Last Updated On: June 30, 2021)

Some American troops will stay on in Afghanistan to protect the U.S. diplomatic presence after the troop withdrawal process ends, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby confirmed Tuesday.

Addressing a press briefing, Kirby also said that the US is still working on details of how to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once troops have left the country.

Turkey has however indicated that it will help run and secure the airport but has attached conditions to this.

Asked about whether reports were true that 650 American troops would stay behind to protect the embassy and hundreds more to protect the airport, Kirby said he was not able to confirm specific numbers but that “it’s important to keep in mind that some U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan. We have to do this to protect our diplomatic presence.”

He also stated: “So there will be some number of — of U.S. troops there, and as we’ve said before, security at the airport is critical to being able to protect and have a diplomatic presence on the ground.
“We are still working out some of the details of what the security situation is going to look like at the airport and how that’s going to be facilitated.”

AP meanwhile reported that last week, a U.S. delegation visited Turkey to discuss the details of the airport mission following the NATO troops’ withdrawal.

On the sharp increase in violence in the country, Kirby was asked whether the Biden administration was “OK with the Taliban” having made such gains across territory in Afghanistan in the past two months.

In turn, Kirby stated that the U.S. continues to say the violence remains too high. “And we’re all aware of — of the security situation in Afghanistan. I think you saw General [Scott] Miller speak to that earlier today, concerns over the — the security situation there.”

He went on to state that the U.S.government would like to see the Taliban return to the peace process in “a credible way”.

“And as we see events on the ground unfold, it certainly calls into question the sincerity of their efforts to be a legitimate, credible participant in the peace process.

“That’s really the right future for Afghanistan is a political process that leads to a negotiated settlement and a peaceful end to the fighting in Afghanistan,” he said adding that that’s what the U.S. administration’s policy continues to try to pursue.

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Suicide car bomb in Somali capital kills at least 8: official



(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

A suicide car bomb killed at least eight people in the Somali capital on Saturday near the president’s palace, police said.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was behind the attack, which targeted a convoy going into the palace.

Police spokesperson Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters at the scene of the blast that casualties could be higher, since some of the dead and wounded had been taken away by their relatives.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the government spokesperson, said among those killed was Hibaq Abukar, an advisor of women and human rights affairs in Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble’s office.

It was not immediately clear if Abukar was in the convoy or if she just happened to be close by when the blast happened.

Al Shabaab wants to overthrow the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islamic law. The group frequently carries out such bombings.

A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack reported seeing seven cars and three rickshaws destroyed by the blast, and the whole junction covered in blood.

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China welcomes Huawei executive home, but silent on freed Canadians



(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

Chinese state media welcomed telecoms giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, back to the “motherland” on Saturday, after more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Canada, on what they called unfounded charges of bank fraud.

But they have kept silent about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese custody in an apparent act of reciprocation by Beijing.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV carried a statement by the Huawei executive, written as her plane flew over the North Pole, avoiding U.S. airspace.

Her eyes were “blurring with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great motherland”, Meng said. “Without a strong motherland, I wouldn’t have the freedom I have today.”

Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, she was finally allowed to leave Canada and fly back to China on Friday, after securing a deal with U.S. prosecutors.

Huawei, founded by Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei, said in a statement that it “looked forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against U.S. charges.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, were released a few hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

State news agency Xinhua formally acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing her release to the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”.

Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “painful three years”.

He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”

However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform have been few and far between.

The foreign ministry has not commented publicly.

China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was not tied in any way to the extradition proceedings against Meng.

Spavor was accused of supplying photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in jail in August. Kovrig had still been awaiting sentencing.

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Four kidnappers killed by IEA forces in hostage drama



(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

Herat security officials said four kidnappers had been killed in a clash with Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) forces on Saturday morning.

The incident happened during an operation to rescue a local man and his son who had been taken hostage by the kidnappers.

According to officials, the kidnapping happened in PD12 in Herat city and the hostages were then taken to PD14.

The officials did not give any further details.

IEA officials said both father and son were rescued.

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