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US State Department orders nonessential embassy personnel to leave Kabul

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

The US State Department is downsizing the US Embassy in Kabul and has ordered all nonessential personnel to leave Afghanistan amid concerns of heightened violence as US and NATO troops withdraw.

The department “ordered the departure from U.S. Embassy Kabul of U.S. government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere,” it noted in a travel advisory issued Tuesday.

In an advisory posted to the embassy’s website, the US stated the “Department of State ordered the departure from U.S. Embassy Kabul of U.S. government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere due to increasing violence and threat reports in Kabul.

“The Consular Section in U.S. Embassy Kabul will remain open for limited consular services to U.S. citizens and for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa processing,” the statement read.

“Commercial flight options from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) remain available and the U.S. Embassy strongly suggests that U.S. citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited,” read the statement.

U.S. officials would not confirm the number of embassy personnel departing, but insisted it would be small and that all offices and services will remain open at the embassy.

“This does not reflect the diminution of our diplomatic engagement in Afghanistan,” a State Department official told NPR.

He did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the embassy departures. “I would call it a reposturing so that we can prepare for the departure of troops in a prudent manner while continuing our diplomatic priorities in country.”

The departing diplomats will continue to do their work remotely.

“As we’ve all discovered during COVID days, we are able to telework more effectively than we ever imagined. That’s what we’re going to be looking at doing,” the official told NPR.

State Department officials say they will have to find alternatives to medical evacuation and other services that the U.S. military had been providing embassy employees.

“There are a number of security-related things that the military has provided previously, and as they depart, we need to take those functions as best we can,” NPR quoted the official as saying.

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Pentagon offers payment to families of victims of botched drone strike

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August in the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering ex-gratia condolence payments, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

The Pentagon had said the strike targeted an Islamic State (Daesh) suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops as they completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The intelligence failure raised hard questions about future risks, particularly whether the United States can keep track of threats from Afghanistan without a presence in the country.

The confirmation of civilian deaths provided further fuel to critics of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, which generated the biggest foreign policy crisis yet for President Joe Biden’s administration.

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NASA probe will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)
NASA launched a first-of-its kind mission on Saturday to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets. Matthew Larotonda reports.
 
NASA launched a new space probe on Saturday (October 16) morning in a special 12-year mission designed to visit more asteroids than ever before.

It focuses on the Trojan asteroids, which are two large clumps of space rocks orbiting the sun. One floats ahead of Jupiter and the other behind it.

Scientists believe the rocks are leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

The probe is called “Lucy” and NASA hopes it will help us learn more about our solar system’s history.

The asteroids are also rich in carbon compounds, and may provide insights into organic materials and life on Earth.

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Turkey could run Kabul airport, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2021)

Having previously run Kabul airport, Turkey can take similar steps in the future with Qatar and Afghanistan if the three countries reach a deal, the Turkish president said on Friday.

“So far, we have had a lot of effort in Afghanistan’s infrastructure and superstructure … We were operating the Kabul Airport. In the future, if agreements can be reached, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, we can take such steps,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.

About the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s recent visit to Turkey, Erdogan said the group asked for humanitarian aid and “made requests concerning the functionality of new process in Afghanistan.”

Erdogan vowed to provide “all manner of support” to the Afghan people as long as the interim administration “takes a just stance in protecting the rights of the Afghan people.”

He said the IEA should also take a fair stance in their relations with Turkey.

An IEA delegation visited Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues, as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

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