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U.S. military days away from completing Afghan withdrawal – sources

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2021)

The U.S. military appears just days away from completing its withdrawal from Afghanistan, well ahead of the Sept. 11 deadline set by President Joe Biden to end America’s longest war, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The withdrawal of troops and equipment from Afghanistan would not include forces that will remain to protect diplomats at the U.S. embassy and potentially assist securing Kabul airport.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that embassy presence could be around 650 troops.

The U.S. military stopped publicly detailing the pace of its withdrawal after it was more than 50 percent complete earlier in June.

The disclosure of the brisk pace of the U.S. withdrawal comes as the Taliban insurgency ramps up its offensive throughout the country. The Pentagon now estimates the Taliban control 81 of the country’s 419 district centers.

Peace talks in Qatar, meanwhile, have failed to make significant progress.

The Pentagon said earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. withdrawal would not necessarily signify the end of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, but referred further queries to NATO.

The withdraw of U.S.-led NATO forces has raised concerns that the country could erupt in full-scale civil war, potentially providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

A United Nations report in January said there were as many as 500 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban maintained a close relationship with the Islamist extremist group. The Taliban denies al Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected on Wednesday to meet his Germany counterpart at the Pentagon. Germany, which had the second largest contingent of troops after the United States in Afghanistan, announced on Tuesday that it had concluded its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It was unclear if the pace of the U.S. withdrawal would still allow first for a planned evacuation of thousands of vulnerable Afghan interpreters and their families, something that had been expected before the U.S. pullout.

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Baradar meets with Bayat chairman to discuss continued investment in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

The deputy prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for economic affairs, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with Dr Ehsanollah Bayat, the chairman of the Bayat Group and its subsidiary the Bayat Foundation, this weekend to discuss the company’s future plans regarding ongoing investment in the country.

The Bayat Group is Afghanistan’s largest private diversified services company, comprising telecoms, media, energy, technology and other enterprises, while the Bayat Foundation provides life saving aid to Afghans in times of need as well as health services.

In their meeting Saturday, Baradar and Dr Bayat discussed investment possibilities in a number of sectors.

According to Baradar’s office, Dr Bayat said he was ready to invest in Afghanistan in the health, electricity and telecommunications sectors.

In a series of tweets, Baradar’s office noted that the deputy prime minister told Dr Bayat in the meeting: “We appreciate and support all the efforts of businessmen and investors in the economic reconstruction of the country.”

He added: “Anyone who invests in Afghanistan and provides job opportunities for the people, we will support him and assure them of their security in the country.”

Baradar also thanked Dr Bayat for the services being provided by the Bayat Group and by the Bayat Foundation.

From 4G LTE communications to electric power, broadcasting, high speed internet, construction and mobile money, The Bayat Group builds market-leading enterprises that provide Afghans with innovative and popular products and services.

A champion of Afghan-based economic development, The Bayat Group provides employment to more than 10,000 Afghans through its direct operations and employs more than 100,000 other Afghan citizens through its ecosystem of dealers and vendors.

The foundation, which was started in 2006, has meanwhile helped rebuild Afghanistan as well as deliver hope and support to the neediest and most at-risk Afghans.

Involved in building mosques, and in the health care and education sectors, the foundation also answers to calls following natural disasters and times of human suffering.

A key example of the type of assistance provided by the Bayat Foundation was in the aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

Within hours of Wednesday’s quake, the foundation had dispatched not only essential relief including shelter, blankets and food, but also a team of doctors and a mobile clinic with life saving medicines to treat the injured.

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China pledges over $7 million in aid for quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

China’s ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and said his country would provide emergency aid worth 50 million Yuan ($7.5 million) for victims of last week’s earthquake. 

At a meeting on Saturday in Kabul, Wang also said that MCC Mes Aynak copper mining contractor would provide $200,000 in aid. 

Wang said on Twitter: “Chinese enterprises will definitely fulfill their social responsibilities. The friendship between 2 countries and peoples will be further strengthened.”

Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government and people for the timely assistance and assured Wang that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities would distribute the aid promptly, fairly and transparently, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported. 

Aid provided by China will include tents, sheets, fold up beds, and other items urgently needed by the Afghan people. The first batch of aid is scheduled to arrive by charter flight on Monday, Bakhtar reported.

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Thousands of earthquake victims in need of water and food, at risk of disease

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Thousands affected by a deadly earthquake in eastern Afghanistan are in need of clean water and food and are at risk of disease, an Afghan Health Ministry official said on Sunday days after a United Nations agency warned of a cholera outbreak in the region.

At least 1,000 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed in last Wednesday’s earthquake, after which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that cholera outbreaks in the aftermath are of particular and serious concern.

“The people are extremely needy for food and clean water,” Afghanistan Health Ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman told Reuters, adding that officials had managed medicines for now but handling those who had lost their homes would be a challenge.

“We ask the international community, humanitarian organizations to help us for food and medicine, the survivor might catch diseases because they don’t have proper houses and shelters for living,” he said.

The UN and several countries have rushed aid to the affected areas, with more due to arrive over the coming days.

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