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Washington condemns attack on Kandahar base housing US troops

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(Last Updated On: April 8, 2021)

The Pentagon condemned the Taliban attack on a Kandahar air base Wednesday, where several hundred U.S. troops are based, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing.

“We condemn today’s attack on Kandahar airfield, home to several hundred U.S. and coalition personnel,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday night at the press briefing.

“While the attack resulted in no casualties or damage, the Taliban’s decision to provoke even more violence in Afghanistan remains disruptive to the opportunity for peace presented by ongoing negotiations,” he added.

A U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman said the airfield is under control of the Afghan government, but U.S. and coalition troops are still present.

“The rockets landed outside the perimeter and there was no damage [and] no casualties,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Kirby, however, would not directly answer a question by the Washington Examiner on whether the attack constituted a violation of the U.S. agreement with the Taliban.

“I’m not prepared to give you an assessment right now, one way or the other, as to how this suits with the agreement,” he said.

“Clearly, the violence is too high,” he said of the situation in Afghanistan. “Clearly, this attack certainly indicates that’s going to be disruptive to the opportunity to achieve a peaceful negotiation, but I’m not prepared today to give an assessment of this attack as balance against the Doha agreement.”

Wednesday’s rocket attack comes just three weeks before the May 1 deadline for U.S troops withdrawal from Afghanistan as per the agreement signed in February last year between the Taliban and the US.

However, the Biden administration is still reviewing the situation and expectations currently are Washington will seek to extend troop presence in Afghanistan for the short-term.

Last month US President Joe Biden said in an interview a complete withdrawal would not be impossible but it would be “tough” from a logistics point of view.

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Salang Pass, Herat- Badghis highway closed to traffic due to heavy snow

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Local officials said that due to heavy snowfall and stormy weather, the Salang Pass and Herat-Badghis highway have been closed to traffic temporarily.

Qazi Obaidullah Obaid, head of the Salang Pass maintenance department said they had decided to close the mountain pass in order to avoid casualties amid bad weather conditions.

According to Obaid dozens of motorists and passengers were stranded on the pass but have since been taken to places of safety.

Meanwhile, Mohibullah Asad, deputy governor of Badghis, said that Herat-Qala-e-Naw highway has also been closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

He said maintenance crews are working to clear the highway and reopen it to traffic.

Badghis received heavy snowfalls from Friday afternoon, making the highway impassable.

Kabul also received a fair amount of snow overnight which was expected to clear later Saturday. However, temperatures are set to drop to around -12 degrees Celsius during the night.

While Sunday is expected to be sunny, the expected high will only be -1 degrees Celsius, dropping to -15 degrees Celsius on Sunday night.

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“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.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

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, Reuters reported.

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

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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IEA says EU reopens embassy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday, announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.

Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.

“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Balkhi tweeted.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that the EU announced 268 million euro additional assistance apart from the 220 million euro humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

He added that a portion of the money will be used for teachers and their salaries which he welcomed.

The reopening of the embassy comes as the IEA is yet to be recognized by any country but a number of countries have started consular services in the country.

This comes after Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Wednesday called on the international community to formally recognize the IEA administration which is governing the country after toppling the U.S.-installed government last year.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the caretaker government, made the statement at an economic conference in Kabul, which convened IEA officials, some countries’ representatives and UN envoys.

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