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Blinken visits Kabul in a show of support after troop withdrawal announcement

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(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, flew into Kabul on Thursday where he met with President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), in a show of support following the announcement Wednesday of the total withdrawal of all foreign troops by September.

On Wednesday night US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced all troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan by September 11. The drawdown will however start on May 1.

According to the Presidential Palace (ARG), Blinken told Ghani on Wednesday in a meeting: “The withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan will not mean the weakening of strategic relations between the two countries.”

“The United States will honor its commitments to the government and people of Afghanistan,” he said.

According to ARG, Blinken said the United States would continue its diplomatic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to Afghan forces and will continue its efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting with Abdullah, Blinken said: “We have a partnership that is changing but enduring” and “as the [US] president says, we have a new chapter but it’s a new chapter that we’re writing together.”

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 on May 1 and that it will not be a “hasty rush to the exit.”

He also stated that if the Taliban attacks, the US will defend itself and partners with “all the tools at our disposal.”

The announcement was not however welcomed by the Taliban who issued a veiled threat to the US and NATO in a statement on Thursday.

The group said the US decision to pull out of Afghanistan starting May 1 is in violation of the agreement signed between the two parties in Doha last year. The Taliban stated it “is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement and non-compliance with its commitments.”

Because of the extended stay in Afghanistan, the Taliban said it would “take every necessary countermeasure, hence the American side will be held responsible for all future consequences.”

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UN Security Council to meet over situation in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday that will focus on the current situation in Afghanistan.

UNSC members are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and security concerns.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Bilal Karimi said the IEA welcomed meetings that are held with the aim of cooperating with the government and people of Afghanistan.

He also said that Afghans expect cooperation and that such meetings must be held in accordance with international laws and principles.

However, the IEA still does not have a designated UN representative – one year after taking control of the country.

Instead, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who assumed leadership of the Afghan mission to the UN in December last year, will address the security council members.

The IEA does not however recognize him as the legitimate envoy to the UN.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Faiq said that he would address the security council meeting and speak on behalf of Afghans.

“On behalf of Afghans, in this important meeting, like always, I would like to raise the voice of my nation,” he said.

In September last year, the IEA asked the UN to accredit Suhail Shaheen, the head of the IEA’s political office in Qatar, as the new ambassador.

But in December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in which it indefinitely delayed a decision over the rival claims to the representative seat for Afghanistan.

At the time, the IEA criticized the UN’s failure to decide on this issue, saying it was ignoring the rights of the Afghan people.

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Influential Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi dies at 96

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who was based in Qatar, died on Monday, according to a post on his official Twitter account.

The cleric was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and was chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

He was best known for his programme al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh (“Sharia and Life”), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40–60 million worldwide.

He is also known for IslamOnline, a website he helped to found in 1997 and for which he served as chief religious scholar.

Al-Qaradawi published more than 120 books, and received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars today.

Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, although he repeatedly stated that he was no longer a member. He has over the years been critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

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Rare 5,000-carat Afghan ruby unveiled in Dubai

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A rare 5,000-carat gemstone that went on private display in Dubai has been heralded as a “blessing from heaven” for the residents of the impoverished village in which it was unearthed.

The ruby, which weighs about 1 kilogram, has been hailed as “one of a kind” due to its rich purple coloring and size, the National News reported.

The ruby was discovered in the village of Hyderabad, bordering Iran and Afghanistan and its owner said he hoped the unexpected find would help bring a change of fortune for villagers without access to schools, hospitals or even electricity for some.

The uncut stone could cost at least $10 million in the market, asset manager Patrick Pilati told The National.

“It was an accidental finding from the village called Hyderabad bordering Iran and Afghanistan. There is no mining activity in the village that is under the jurisdiction of Afghanistan,” he said.

The rough stone is deep purple in color and bigger than the palm of a hand.

A certificate of authenticity …by the International Testing Laboratory Gems and Jewellery, in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India, and shown to The National, stated the rough ruby weighs 5,010 carats.

Azad Rokhsati, a gemologist, who was also present at the event, confirmed the size and weight.

“I have never seen anything like this,” he said.

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