Blinken to return to Brussels for talks on Ukraine, Afghanistan
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Brussels this week for discussions on Iran, Afghanistan and Russian activities directed at Ukraine, a U.S. official said.
Blinken will join U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Brussels. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday, did not release additional details on the trip.
Austin was scheduled to visit NATO headquarters in Belgium on a trip that started on Saturday and also includes Israel, Germany and Britain, the Pentagon said last week.
The trip by two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet members coincides with increasing tensions over Russian activities near Ukraine’s eastern border, where Washington says Russia has amassed more troops than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine on Friday of “dangerous provocative actions” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.
Turkey, a NATO ally, said on Friday the United States would deploy two warships to the Black Sea from April 14-15.
Blinken first visited Brussels in March for talks with European Union and NATO allies and pledged to rebuild and revitalize trans-Atlantic alliances.
IEA, Iranian officials hold talks after border clash
Following the border clash in Nimroz province on Saturday, officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Iran have held talks in a bid to reduce tensions.
Two Iranian border guards and one IEA guard were killed after the shooting that happened near a border post in Nimroz.
Tehran and Kabul have said that peace has returned to the area and both sides have pledged to avoid such incidents.
IEA has emphasized that Afghanistan does not want war with any of its neighbors and wants to have friendly relations with Iran.
“The Islamic Emirate believes in talks regarding any issue that happens. So this is a very good option. We want that all the issues that exist or the concerns that we have are addressed through talks,” said Bilal Karimi, IEA’s deputy spokesman.
Iran’s interior minister also downplayed the clash and said that the border gate of the Silk Bridge has been reopened and economic exchanges between the two countries have resumed.
“There was a brief conflict and it was resolved. Negotiations were also held with the Taliban (IEA). Now we have no problem. The border is open and peaceful,” Ahmad Wahidi, Iran’s Minister of Interior, said.
Iran’s military officials also said that such incidents should be prevented.
“The meeting took place. Now we have come to see what the parties should do so that this kind of unfortunate incident does not happen,” Qassem Rezaei, deputy commander of Iran’s national police, said.
The clash happened amid tensions between the two countries over water rights.
Iran has accused the IEA of violating a 1973 treaty by restricting the flow of water from the Helmand river to Iran, an accusation denied by the IEA.
Earlier this month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the IEA over disregarding Iran’s water rights under the treaty. The IEA rejected Raisi’s perceived threat.
An Iranian cleric criticized Raisi’s remarks.
“Your diplomatic language was not correct. You suggested (to IEA) to take your words seriously and not complain later. Is this a proper statement? What answer did you get? You embarrassed this nation,” Abdulrahman Omarzahi, a religious scholar in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran, said.
Afghanistan weather bureau issues heavy rain and flood warning
The Afghanistan Department of Meteorology issued a warning Monday on the possibility of heavy rain and floods in 19 provinces over the next two days.
In a warning on their website, they said heavy rains and floods could be expected on Monday and Tuesday in Badakhshan, Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, Baghlan, Nangarhar, Kabul, Logar, Paktia, Khost, Paktika, Zabul, Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Parwan, Panjshir and Kapisa province.
According to the department, the amount of rainfall is predicted to be between 10 and 30 mm.
Last week, the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) reported that over the past month, at least 42 people died and 45 were injured in 13 provinces due to natural disasters.
Shafiullah Rahimi, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a video that during this period, 341 houses were completely or partially destroyed, 19,573 acres of agricultural land were damaged, and 1,354 livestock were lost in these provinces, mostly in flash floods.
According to Rahimi, these incidents took place in the provinces of Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Takhar, Badakhshan, Ghor, Kandahar, Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Paktia, Khost, Daikundi and Nangarhar.
In addition to this, recent floods caused huge financial losses to residents.
The press office of the governor of Ghor has said that a joint delegation from various government departments visited Taywara and Pasaband districts of the province, to assess the flood damage.
“Five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-five acres of agricultural land, 105 drinking water wells, and water springs were destroyed in two districts, 74 shops were partially destroyed and some were completely destroyed,” the statement said.
In addition, 32 houses were partially destroyed, along with 201 small water dams, fourteen culvert bases and 559 small water reservoirs and canals.
Ghor’s press office said the team had shared the results of its investigations with the local administration, but no help has yet been received for the flood victims.
IEA’s Prime Minister congratulates Erdogan on his victory
Prime Minister of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, has extended his heartfelt congratulations to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his re-election.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, won an election runoff Sunday after the strongest challenge to his 20-year rule.
The IEA Prime Minister expressed his sincere hope for increased strength, stability, and dedication to religious service in Turkey under President Erdogan’s leadership.
Akhund also noted the bond of brotherhood and friendship between the people of Afghanistan and Turkey and conveyed his aspirations for continued cooperation and mutual support between the two nations in various fields.
He also said Erdogan’s successful re-election will further strengthen diplomatic ties and shared values between the two countries.
Official results showed Erdogan’s challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu won 47.9% of the votes to Erdogan’s 52.1%, pointing to a deeply divided nation.
The election had been seen as one of the most consequential yet for Turkey, with the opposition believing it had a strong chance of unseating Erdogan and reversing his policies after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living crisis.
Instead, victory reinforced his image of invincibility, after he had already redrawn domestic, economic, security and foreign policy in the NATO member country of 85 million people.
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