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US Mission in Afghanistan Has Not Changed: Esper

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2019)

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Washington will continue to pursue an aggressive military campaign against Taliban and other terrorist groups until Afghanistan reaches to a political settlement.

In a surprise visit, the Pentagon chief arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday.

On Monday, Esper appeared at a joint press conference with Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid, Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi and U.S. top commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller.

Speaking at the conference with his Afghan counterparts, Esper said the United States is supporting peace efforts led by the Afghan government.

“The United States remains fully committed to helping Afghans create a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.

Esper said he had a good meeting with President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival and the two sides have spoken about the importance of relationship between Afghanistan and the United States.

He reiterated that his country remains committed to the success of Afghan security forces who have taken the lead of security in the war-torn country.

The U.S. official also praised Afghan forces for their success to provide security of the Afghan presidential election that took place on September 28 despite of Taliban’s repeated threats.

“Regardless of the outcome of the election, our security partnership with Afghanistan will remain strong. Our mission in Afghanistan has not changed,” Esper emphasized.

During his one and half day stay in the capital of Afghanistan, Pentagon chief also visited U.S. soldiers based in camp Moorhead in southeast of Kabul.

“Just finished lunch with Afghan Security Ministers including @MoDAfghanistan Defense Minister Khalid and Interior Minister Andrabi. We all agree that a political settlement is the only long-term solution for peace and security in Afghanistan,” Esper wrote on Twitter as he departed from Afghanistan.

By Hesamuddin Hesam

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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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