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Afghan security forces capable of defending own country: NSC

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(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) said on Thursday the country’s security forces are capable of maintaining security in the country.

This comes just hours after US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a full withdrawal of all foreign troops starting May 1.

According to them, all troops will be out of Afghanistan by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

During his official announcement on Wednesday night Biden said: “It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home from Afghanistan.”

He said the US will begin its withdrawal in May and that it will not be a “hasty rush to the exit.”

A spokesman for the NSC, Rahmatullah Andar, meanwhile said: “Now the international community also believes that 96 percent of operations are carried out by the Afghan forces.”

“We are in the frontline of the counter-terrorism war and defense and protection of this land and people and it is not a temporary responsibility but it’s our permanent obligation,” Andar said.

Both the US and NATO said however that while troops would be withdrawn, they would both look to continue providing financial help to Afghanistan – specifically regarding Afghan troops.

In a joint press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels late Wednesday night with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Stoltenberg said NATO will continue to support Afghanistan but not by having troops on the ground.

He said all Allies agreed Wednesday to start withdrawing troops from May 1 but added the decision was one that “carries risks”.

However, he noted that should NATO forces come under attack by the Taliban during the withdrawal phase they would be met with force.

Blinken said that the Taliban now has a choice to make and that it’s in “no one’s interests to plunge the country into a civil war”.

He also said ultimately it will be the people of Afghanistan who decide their future. “They are the ones who have to decide.”

Asked about Afghans at risk by US withdrawal and opportunities for asylum-seekers, Blinken said the US has a commitment to those Afghans who worked with the US. He also said however that a withdrawal of troops does not mean an end to US commitment.

The defense secretary in turn said any attack on their troops during the drawdown will be responded to with force.

Austin said the US will seek to continue funding the Afghan Air Force and seek to fund security forces’ salaries but also said they know the Taliban will try to reverse gains made in the past 20 years and because of this a political settlement is needed.

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Sanctions undermine supply of vital aid to Afghanistan: ICRC

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2022)

Sanctions imposed on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) have undermined the supply of vital humanitarian aid to the country, Martin Schuepp, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said.

“For the moment we are continuing to operate. I think one of the important challenges is indeed the sanctions that have been imposed. For example, the banking sector, and that makes our operations more difficult for us,” Schuepp told Xinhua.

Following the withdrawal of the US-led forces, Afghanistan’s assets worth more than $9 billion were frozen by the United States as part of its sanctions on the new rulers of the country.

“It is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions, which allows humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC to operate and to be able to reach people in need,” Schuepp said.

The ICRC official made the remarks amid increasing poverty and high rate of unemployment in Afghanistan.

Schuepp also said that poverty had led to an increase in the cases of pneumonia and malnutrition among children.

“So, overall, we continue to operate throughout the country. We continue to implement our activities, and actually to increase our activities in the country,” the official said.

“Also, one of our main programs is supporting hospitals … around the country to make sure that all Afghans in need receive care.”

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Pakistani delegation meets IEA officials, mutual interests discussed

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2022)

A meeting was held between visiting Pakistani delegation led by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hinna Rabbani Khar and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials on Tuesday, where various issues were discussed including the matter of Afghans in Pakistani prisons.

The meeting took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was chaired by the IEA’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Also part of the Pakistani delegation was the Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq Khan, Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires in Kabul Obaidur Rehman Nizamani and other Pakistani officials.

Muttaqi welcomed the visiting delegation and said good relations between the two countries were beneficial to the people of both countries and the region.

Muttaqi also raised the issue of Afghan prisoners in Pakistan, as well as the need to facilitate travel to and from the country, and the need to improve trade and transit relations, read a ministry statement.

Muttaqi expressed his willingness to restart TAPI, TAP, the railway line and other big projects. He further expressed the Islamic Emirate’s position on political relations, economic growth and security.

The Ministry said that the Pakistani delegation promised to cooperate with regards to the treatment of refugees in the country and that they would try to resolve other problems in terms of travel routes and visas.

The Pakistani delegation also stated it would work to strengthen and develop trade and transit ties with Afghanistan.

“Since Afghanistan and Pakistan are two neighboring Muslim countries and have cultural commonalities, the governments of both countries should cooperate with each other and protect mutual public interests,” Khar said during the meeting.

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US envoy Karen Decker attends Herat Security Dialogue in Tajikistan

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2022)

US Charge D’affaires to Afghanistan Karen Decker on Tuesday confirmed she will attend the two-day Herat Security Dialogue in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where views will be exchanged on the security situation in the country.

Decker tweeted that the dialogue provides a “great opportunity” to exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan. According to her, representatives from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, regional countries, and the EU, will attend the conference.

“I am here to listen, but I will be prepared to reiterate America’s strong support for the Afghan people and for an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors,” she said.

According to a statement by the Afghan institute of strategic studies, the main discussion topics will be on the need for an inclusive political system for Afghanistan.

Farhad Salim, Deputy Foreign Minister of Tajikistan meanwhile said that Tajikistan’s policy is to support the establishment of an inclusive government in Afghanistan that can lead to the end of the half-century conflict in Afghanistan and the achievement of social justice.

This is the 10th Herat Security Dialogue – which was initiated in 2012 to focus on peace and security topics relating to Afghanistan.

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