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Biden still consulting on troop withdrawal issue: White House

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(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)

With just over three weeks to go before the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that US President Joe Biden has not yet made a decision on the issue and is still in consultations over the matter.

In a press briefing Monday, Psaki said in answer to a question on whether the troops exit will go ahead as per the Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban: “Well, as the president has said before, it will be tough to meet the May 1st deadline for full withdrawal, for logistical reasons.

“We are continuing — he’s continuing to consult internally with his national security team and advisors and, of course, also with our partners and allies.”

She said Biden has “been working on these issues — foreign policy issues, national security issues — for several decades now and, of course, wants to take the time to make the right decision.”

Asked if the expectation could be that troops will stay in Afghanistan after the May 1st withdrawal deadline, Psaki said that Biden “set the expectation it will be tough for a full withdrawal, for logistical reasons, by that timeline.”

She said this is something that has been conveyed clearly to all partners as well. “But in terms of what’s next, you know, he just wants to take the time to make a decision,” she said.

This comes close on the heels of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s interview this week with TRT World where he stated that any withdrawal – or extension of troop presence – should be done in a responsible manner.

Karzai said the troop withdrawal must be carried out in a responsible manner so as to make sure it is done in coordination with major powers and countries in the region in order to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

Karzai said: “The US withdrawal or staying in Afghanistan beyond May 1 must be responsible in both cases; if they want to withdraw that withdrawal must be responsible in the sense that it must make sure that Afghanistan is peaceful and that it is done in a broader understanding with major powers and the countries in the region so all together make Afghanistan a place of cooperation rather than competition.”

“Second if they want to stay beyond May 1 that too has to be responsible. The United States cannot be staying in Afghanistan that is in conflict; No!”

“If the US wants to, wishes to stay in Afghanistan, it can only be staying in Afghanistan and be in cooperation with a peaceful Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, not in Afghanistan in which the US presence is there, bases are there, but we are dying in a conflict and our children are suffering,” he said. .

Karzai said he is appealing for a responsible exit on the part of the Americans.

“A responsible exit and if they wish to – a very responsible stay which means in a peaceful Afghanistan not like what they did in the past 20 years; No!”

Karzai also said Afghans want “an immediate end to violence by all sides” – all sides being the Afghan government, the Taliban and the United States.

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PACF hands over 25 tons of food items to support Afghans

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

The Pak Afghan Cooperation Forum (PACF) on Thursday handed over 25 tons of food items to Afghan authorities as part of its ongoing support to the people of war-hit Afghanistan.

The truckload of the food items, arranged by the PACF, were handed over to the Afghan authorities at the Chaman crossing, app reported.

The handing-over ceremony was attended by Deputy Commissioner of Chaman Hameed Zahri and senior officers of the Afghan Foreign Office including Maulwi Waheedullah and Mullah Hikmatullah.

According to the report since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), takeover in Afghanistan last year, Pakistan had sent over a total of 15,390 tons worth Rs2, 650 million of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

The humanitarian assistance had been sent to Afghanistan via 83 convoys, including 743 trucks and four C-130 flights, till August 5, read the report.

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A group of 9/11 victims call for frozen funds to be given back to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

Families of 9/11 victims have called on US President Joe Biden to release billions of dollars belonging to Afghanistan.

In a letter sent to Biden this week, 77 family members of 9/11 victims called on the president to modify an executive order from February which froze the Afghan central bank’s $7 billion of assets being held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“Any use of the $7 billion to pay off 9/11 family member judgments is legally suspect and morally wrong,” the family members wrote in a letter first reported by Politico.

The letter came amid a report in the Wall Street Journal that the US had ruled out releasing the funds following the US killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul earlier this month.

The US froze the money after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) swept to power following the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The IEA and US had been engaged in talks about releasing the funds.

Biden planned to give $3.5 billion to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes and the balance to families of 9/11 victims.

But the revelation that the al-Qaeda leader was living in Kabul derailed talks between the US and the IEA on a compromise over the funds.

The 9/11 victims’ families said that, while they had filed lawsuits seeking justice for their loss, they didn’t intend for the compensation “to take money away from starving Afghans”.

“This money is theirs, not ours,” the letter said. “Simply put, this money belongs to the Afghan people, not 9/11 family members – and they need it more.”

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3,000 religious scholars, elders and officials attend IEA’s Kandahar meeting

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

About 3,000 religious scholars, government officials, ethnic elders and members of civil society attended a meeting in Kandahar on Thursday.

Among the key speakers was the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The media was however prevented from recording or filming Akhundzada’s speech.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, said at the meeting that the IEA wants good relations with the world, but that the foreign community should not expect relations to normalize immediately – not after 20 years of war.

Muttaqi said that while the IEA wants good relations with the international community, they expect the world to allow Afghans to live according to their beliefs and traditions.

He also said that they have made many achievements in building trade relations with countries in the region and currently the borders are open to Afghan traders who are now exporting their goods.

On the other hand, acting Minister of Vice and Virtue has said that the IEA has made countless sacrifices to end the occupation and establish an Islamic system in Afghanistan.

However, Afghans across the country are hoping that one of the outcomes of this meeting will be the decision to reopen schools for girls above Grade 6.

But it is not clear as to whether the subject was discussed at the meeting.

This is the second such meeting in as many months. The first one, two months ago, took place at the Loya Jirga Hall in Kabul.

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