EU suspends development payments for Afghan Gov't

The European Union has suspended development assistance payments to Afghanistan, now that the Taliban have taken control. However, it is considering whether to increase humanitarian aid for the conflict-ravaged nation.

EU suspends development payments for Afghan Gov't

Josep Borrell, EU's chief of foreign policy, says that there will be no development assistance payments until the Taliban leaders are notified.

Borrell, speaking after he presided over a meeting of EU foreign minsters on Tuesday, said that the Taliban must comply with U.N. Security Council Resolutions and human rights in order to gain access to the funds.

Borrell stated that humanitarian aid will continue and may increase, given the number and severity of the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing drought, and the displacement of Afghans.

For the period 2021-2024, Afghanistan will receive development assistance from 27 countries. This amount is approximately 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 million).

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's information Minister said Tuesday that his country would only make a decision on the recognition of a Taliban government within Afghanistan after consulting with international and regional powers.

Fawad Chaudhry stated at a press conference that Pakistan doesn't want to make any unilateral decision in this area. He stated that Pakistan is pleased to see that there hasn’t been any violence or bloodshed in Afghanistan since the Taliban tookover.

Two days after the Taliban invaded Kabul, the Afghan capital, Chaudhry's comments were made. This was following a brief blitz lasting just over a week.

When the Taliban government came to power in the 1990s, Pakistan was one of three countries that recognized it.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S.-led invasion expelled the Taliban. They were the ones who had at that time shelter al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden, the leader of this network.

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SOFIA (Bulgaria) -- The foreign ministry of the Balkan nation announced Tuesday that the joint statement signed by the Bulgarian leaders affirmed the right for Afghans to leave the country.

This statement was made following an emergency meeting of the national security council, called by Rumen Radev, the Bulgarian President, to discuss measures to reduce the migratory pressure at the border between Turkey and Bulgaria.

It was noted that all the temporary accommodation centres in Bulgaria are already overcrowded by migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the peak of the migrant crisis, hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through Bulgaria's territory. The fence was erected along the border with Turkey for most of the 269 km (167 miles) that Bulgaria has maintained since then. Although there is not a fence at the border with Greece, some army units have been deployed to assist police patrolling the frontier.

The arrival of asylum seekers and migrants to Bulgaria has been opposed by the majority of the Bulgarian public during previous migration waves.

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THE HAGUE (Netherlands) -- The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says he is monitoring developments in Afghanistan closely and is "most worried" by reports of violence increasing in the country.

In a statement Tuesday, Karim Khan, the Prosecutor, stated that he shares U.N. Security Council's views on incidents that he believes "may amount to violations international humanitarian law."

They include "extrajudicial executions in form of revenge killings detainees or individuals who surrendered", persecution of women, girls, crimes against children, and other crimes affecting civilian populations at large," he said.

A Hague-based court opened an investigation into Afghanistan's crimes dating back to May 2003.

Khan stated that he is calling on all parties to the country to "fully respect their obligations under international human rights law, including by ensuring protection of civilians." I am available and willing to engage in dialogue with all parties towards this end."

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GENEVA -- Dozens have gathered outside the U.N. compound in Geneva to demand respect for women and freedom of expression in Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the government.

On Tuesday, demonstrators called for the continuation of education for girls and women - which was prohibited during Taliban rule in the late 90s - and held banners that read "We want peace" or "Help Afghanistan out."

Many demonstrators wore red, green, and black Afghan flags. This flag was replaced by a white Taliban flag at some Afghan official buildings after President Ashraf Ghani was overthrown. The rally saw many women and girls take part.

Two women held up signs that said: "The world shouldn't allow Afghanistan to be a prison and deathtrap for women."

The protest was held at the U.N. Geneva compound's landmark three-legged chair. This site is regularly host to demonstrations regarding a wide range of human rights issues.

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MOSCOW -- MOSCOW -- Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan stated that he met with Taliban representatives in Kabul for security talks.

The Kremlin's envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kazulov, announced Tuesday's meeting. He also stated that the Taliban had already begun guarding the Russian Embassy's perimeter.

Russian state TV reported Tuesday that Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov said the meeting was solely dedicated to security of the Embassy and included "senior Taliban officials in the city who were willing to surrender the remaining members of the self-disbanded Afghan National Security Forces."

Zhirnov stated that the meeting was constructive and positive. "The Taliban representatives stated that the Taliban had the most friendly approach to Russia. They also confirmed security guarantees for the Embassy.

Russia declared the Taliban terrorist organization in 2003. However, it has hosted numerous rounds of talks in Afghanistan since then, including one in March that included the Taliban.

Moscow, which fought 10 years of war in Afghanistan and was finally defeated by Soviet troops in 1989, has been a diplomatic mediator. It has reached out to rival Afghan factions while jockeying with the U.S. to gain influence in the country.

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MOSCOW -- Uzbekistan denied Tuesday media reports that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had sought refuge in Uzbekistan after the Taliban invaded Kabul over the weekend.

Ghani fled the Afghan capital on Sunday. His whereabouts remain unknown. Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, ex-Soviet countries, have denied taking him in.

Dunyo, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry’s news agency, stated Tuesday that media reports about Ghani and former Afghan warlords Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ata Mohammad Noor, in Uzbekistan, were "not true according to official information."

Meanwhile, Stefan Lofven, the Swedish Prime Minister, said Tuesday in Stockholm that it was unclear how the Taliban will govern the country. The prospects of peace negotiations are not very bright, unfortunately.

He wrote an Instagram message saying, "We won't abandon the Afghan people." "But Sweden will have to shift some of its aid to Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover. We will not provide any assistance to Taliban."

Since 2013, Afghanistan has been the largest beneficiary of Swedish aid.

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. military commanders in Kabul are in touch with Taliban leaders to coordinate the evacuation of American citizens and Afghan allies.

At a briefing Tuesday, John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated that the U.S. will continue to interact with Taliban leaders as people are evacuated. He stated that there had been no hostile encounters at the airport with Taliban fighters.

Kirby was asked if the U.S. commanders reached an agreement with Taliban to allow safe passage to the airport for Afghan allies or others who are awaiting evacuation. Kirby replied that there were interactions between our commanders and the Taliban leaders outside the airport.

Officials believe that evacuations will increase in speed so that up to 9,000 people can be evacuated each day.

Taliban fighters have taken control of Kabul's airport gates and entry points following their Sunday sweep into Kabul.

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LONDON -- A Taliban spokesperson has stated that Afghan women will be able to work and receive education at the university level.

Suhail Shaheen, a British Prime Minister, said Tuesday to Sky News that Boris Johnson and all world leaders have a moral obligation to rebuild Afghanistan.

Shaheen, a U.K. prime Minister, said that all world leaders should respect the aspirations of Afghan people and support their economic development in a video interview. Shaheen was speaking from Doha, Qatar.

He said, "This is their responsibility because they were behind Afghanistan's destruction during the past 20 years." Their moral obligation is to contribute to Afghanistan's reconstruction and to assist the Afghan people in a new beginning and a new chapter.

Shaheen stated that the Taliban will uphold the Doha Peace Agreement and that they are committed to women's rights. He also said that girls can get education from primary school to university. This means university. This is our policy, and we're really trying to do this in all the areas that fall to us in Afghanistan.

He said that the group had already announced an amnesty for all foreigners and foreigners who were involved in the collapsed government. Their property and lives will be protected, their honor will be preserved, and they are secure. They shouldn't be concerned about it.

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PRISTINA (Kosovo) -- The prime minister of Kosovo said Tuesday that the country will temporarily house Afghans who are under threat by the Taliban as part of the peacekeeping mission.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti stated that, since mid-July two teams from Kosovo were working together to shelter several Afghans who were under threat.

Monday's statement by President Vjosa Osmani stated that U.S. President Joe Biden had requested a temporary shelter for Afghan civilian staff who were working with U.S forces a month prior.

Kurti stated in an interview with The Associated Press, "By sheltering some refugees from Afghanistan, we are doing a little help in return for an immense contribution that was made by the United States to our country and our citizens during the war and afterwards."

Kurti didn't give any details about the location where they would be kept due to security concerns. In 1999, the Kosovo Albanians fled in a massive exodus amid a violent war between Serb forces and separatist Kosovo Albanian rebels. After a U.S.-led NATO air strike that lasted 78 days, the war was over. A peacekeeping force arrived to replace them.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008. This is recognized by the majority of the West, but not Serbia and its allies Russia and China.

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KABUL (Afghanistan) -- The Afghan vice-president claims that President Ashraf Ghani fled to Kabul in the face Taliban sweep into Kabul last weekend. His whereabouts are unknown and the vice president is now the country's "legitimate caretaker president."

Amrullah Saleh posted the comment via Twitter Tuesday. He said that the Afghan constitution gave him the power to declare it. He stated that he was reaching out to "all leaders to secure their support and consensus."

Since the fall of Kabul, Afghan leaders including former President Hamid Karzai, and Abdullah Abdullah Abdullah, are currently negotiating with Taliban leaders.

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BERLIN -- Heiko Maas, the German Foreign Minister, told Berliner reporters that they would discuss how to help each other get EU citizens and Afghan staffers out.

Mass stated that they would also be discussing how to deal the Taliban in the future as well as how to maintain stability in the region in the face possible refugee flows from Afghanistan. Mass said that they would be closely watching the developments and will judge those in Afghanistan who are executing power by their actions.

The German foreign minister stated that the "special focus of our view will be on the stability in the region." The neighbouring countries will be faced with additional refugee movements.

Maas said that "we have already informed the United Nations that our country is ready to assist with humanitarian care for these people in neighbouring countries -- but eventually, we will need to have an European approach."

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COPENHAGEN (Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen stated that Denmark would help other countries out of Afghanistan at the request the United States.

Bramsen stated that "we are now in a position where we can lift out our own and assist allies." "We had planned to have military aircraft in the area, so that we can (now) help our allies.

It was crucial that the Danish action was taken when civilian aircraft stopped taking off from Kabul International Airport, while the military continued to operate.

She stated, "On Sunday we were one (nations) that moved to a military operation."

Norway was also able to assist Denmark in getting its diplomats out Afghanistan on Monday.

It is not clear if all Danish citizens have been evacuated. Jeppe Kofod, the Danish Foreign Minister, stated that he could guarantee that all Danish nationals were evacuated. It is very important to us", he said, adding that "but some things we cannot control."

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BERLIN -- German Foreign Ministry Heiko Maas said that, in addition to the 125 evacuatees who were flown out Kabul on Tuesday afternoon, 100 more people were still waiting for the next German military transport aircraft to take them out.

Maas stated that two more planes would land in the afternoon. He said that German military personnel had secured a safe gate at the airport for people on the German government's evacuation list.

Taliban fighters have taken control of Kabul following their Sunday sweep.

In the meantime, Hungary's foreign ministry confirmed more than 26 Hungarian citizens were in Afghanistan waiting for evacuation.

Hvg.hu, a news site, reported Tuesday that 26 Hungarians provided security services for the Dutch Embassy in Kabul in the past but are now stranded there.

According to the foreign ministry of Hungary, the statement was confirmed by Index.hu. It stated that Hungary had already agreed with one military ally to send the 26-strong Hungarian contingent to the country and that it was continuously monitoring the situation.

According to the ministry, additional Hungarian citizens had requested assistance in Afghanistan. However, they would not reveal their identities or whereabouts due to security concerns. The foreign ministry informed ATV commercial television that it did not know of any Hungarian citizens living in Afghanistan on Monday.

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LONDON -- The British officer responsible for Britain's evacuation from Afghanistan of between 6,000 and 7,000 people has said that Taliban commanders at Kabul's airport have not attempted to disrupt the operation.

Royal Navy Vice Admiral Ben Key said that "pragmatic tactical, low-level" discussions had to be held with the Taliban in order for them to control the entry points into the airport.

Key acknowledged that it has only been one and a half days since the evacuation began, but he said that the Taliban had so far seemed "acquiescent" and understood what Key was trying to accomplish.

British officials have asked people to make their way to the airport area as soon as a flight is available. They must then be allowed to enter the airport grounds by Taliban. After they have been allowed inside, British officials conduct the security checks and take them to the airport where they will be waiting for their flight home to the U.K.

Britain wants to expel 4,000 U.K. citizens and Afghan allies who have aided over the past two decades.

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BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg blames the rapid collapse of Afghanistan's armed forces on a failure by Afghan leadership, but says that the alliance must also expose flaws in its military-training efforts.

Stoltenberg states that the Afghan political leadership "failed to stand up" and "this failure by Afghan leadership led us to the tragedy we are seeing today."

He made these remarks after chairing a meeting Tuesday with NATO envoys to discuss security implications of Taliban's victory in Afghanistan.

NATO has led international security efforts to Afghanistan since 2003. However, NATO ended combat operations in 2014 in order to train the national security forces.

Stoltenberg spoke out about the way that the Afghan armed forces succumbed to the Taliban offensive.

He said that there are "learnts to be learned" from NATO.

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MOSCOW -- Russia’s top diplomat said Tuesday that Moscow is not in hurry to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan. He called for an inclusive dialogue with all political forces within the country.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said that Russia is "just like other countries" and was not in hurry to recognize the Taliban government. Lavrov also noted that the Taliban are sending encouraging signals to Russia, indicating their desire for a government with other political forces.

He made these remarks as the Taliban declared an "amnesty” across Afghanistan, and encouraged women to join their government. Lavrov said that Moscow supports the "beginning of an inclusive national dialog with all political and confessional force in Afghanistan."

Russia declared the Taliban terrorist organization in 2003. However, it has hosted numerous rounds of talks in Afghanistan since then, including one in March that included the Taliban.

Moscow, which fought 10 years of war in Afghanistan and was finally defeated by Soviet troops in 1989, has been a mediator in the peace process. It has reached out to rival Afghan factions while jockeying with the U.S. for power in the country.

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SKOPJE (North Macedonia) -- North Macedonia will temporarily shelter 186 Afghan refugees until their transfer to the United States of America or another country.

Late Monday, the government in Skopje stated that it was concerned about Afghans who participated in democratic changes in Afghanistan or worked for international agencies and organizations. They weren't specified when they would arrive.

Bujar Osmani, Foreign Minister, stated that the first six refugees were mostly children and women who are close relatives of U.N. staff in Kabul. Rest are relatives, staff of charities, civic and human rights organizations, journalists, and staff from journalism. The government didn't specify when they would arrive.

At the expense of U.S. and international organizations, the Afghans will be housed in motels, resorts, and hotels.

North Macedonia's authorities announced Tuesday that the majority of 75 country's citizens have been evacuated by U.S. military aircrafts flying from Kabul to Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Osmani stated that 11 of the 14 remaining in Kabul will be evacuated on Tuesday. Three of the remaining four have said that they will remain in Afghanistan for now.

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DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) -- A top Taliban official met with a Qatari official prior to reportedly departing the country for Afghanistan.

Mullah Abdul Ghani baradar met on Tuesday with Qatar's Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

According to a statement, the two reviewed the most recent security and political developments in Afghanistan. They stressed the need to protect civilians and intensify efforts for national reconciliation.

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