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U.S. takes control of Afghan embassy and consulates

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

The United States has taken control of the Afghan Embassy in Washington and Afghan consulates in two U.S. states, the State Department has said.

The State Department has assumed “sole responsibility” for the security and maintenance of the diplomatic missions and their “furnishings, archives, and financial assets” and will bar anyone from entering them without its permission until further notice, the department said in a notice to be published on May 18 in the Federal Register, the Associated Press reported.

The move came after the department determined that the embassy and the consulates in Little Neck, New York, and Beverly Hills, California, had “formally ceased conducting diplomatic and consular activities in the United States” at noon on May 16.

Washington does not recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) led government in Afghanistan, which took power last year after the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops, and does not have formal diplomatic relations with the country.

A department official told AP the step did not signal any change in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan.

The United States took control of the facilities in an agreement with diplomats from the former Afghan government who faced “severe financial constraints that made continued operations unsustainable,” the official said.

The department noted Afghanistan had not requested a third country to serve as a “protecting power” for its U.S. facilities or interests. Since Washington closed its embassy in Kabul, Qatar has served as the U.S. protecting power in Afghanistan.

The Islamic Emirate, has however, emphasized the need for the establishment of diplomatic relations with the countries and says that interaction with Afghanistan will benefit all countries.

Bilal Karimi, Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, said: “The Islamic Emirate is working on diplomatic issues and has good diplomatic relations with many countries, and it is hoped that diplomatic avenues will be open and there will be no problems in this area, and this will benefit all countries to have diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.”

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Afghan acting FM heads to Doha for talks with US

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Tuesday left Kabul for Doha for talks with US officials.

Officials from the ministry of finance and Da Afghanistan Bank, the country’s central, bank is accompanying Muttaqi in the visit.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, said that the delegation will meet with the US special envoy for Afghanistan and officials from the US Department of the Treasury.

He said that political, economic and banking issues will be discussed in the meeting.

This comes as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US officials are working with IEA leadership on a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves to deal with a server hunger crisis, aiming to avert a humanitarian disaster.

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Russia working on IEA ties, Putin says in Tajikistan

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Moscow is trying to build relations with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

Putin, during his visit to Tajikistan, also said Russia wants to see all ethnic groups in Afghanistan take part in running the country.

“We are doing everything so that the situation in that country normalizes,” Putin said in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. “We are attempting to build relations with the political forces that control the situation.”

“We are working from the premise that all ethnic groups in Afghanistan, as was already said, must properly participate in running the country,” he said.

Putin’s statement came after a meeting with President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan during the Russian leader’s first trip abroad since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

Tajikistan shares a border with Afghanistan and Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the possibility of militants infiltrating the former Soviet republic.

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US to provide $55 million in additional aid for immediate earthquake assistance: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

In response to the deadly earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday, the United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will provide nearly $55 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to meet urgent needs of people affected. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday the United States would provide the additional funds for immediate humanitarian assistance. 

The new funding brings total US humanitarian assistance to over $774 million in the last year, Blinken added.

According to a statement issued by USAID on Tuesday, this additional assistance includes support for USAID partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to continue to reach earthquake-affected people with urgently needed shelter materials, water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies, and other relief items. 

“These vital supplies include emergency shelter kits, cooking pots, jerry cans for water collection and storage, blankets, solar lamps, clothing, and other household items. In addition, this support will provide hygiene kits, menstrual hygiene supplies, and water treatment kits. 

“Given that the area impacted by the earthquake was already experiencing an acute watery diarrhea outbreak, this relief will help mitigate a larger waterborne disease outbreak in the aftermath of this disaster, when there is greater risk given the lack of access to safe water,” the statement read. 

The US response came just hours after the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $110 million to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 360,000 Afghans who were affected by last week’s earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said early Tuesday that the new appeal is part of this year’s Humanitarian Response plan, which calls for $4.4 billion, but is massively underfunded at just over one third.

“We and our partners are borrowing supplies, personnel, and resources from other humanitarian programmes,” UNOCHA said in a statement.

Wednesday’s earthquake killed over a thousand people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes in Paktika and Khost provinces.

“I’m appealing to the world — please help. We need money. We need funding. We need support to resolve this tragedy,” Ramiz Alakbarov, UN resident relief coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a video message while visiting an area in Paktika province.

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