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In the aftermath of the Afghanistan fiasco, Congress confronts the United States’ top diplomat

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Congress interviewed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, with legislators from both parties grilling him on his role in the failed evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan.

As Americans and Afghan allies remain stranded in Afghanistan following the messy US pullout, the Biden administration has been roundly attacked by both sides of the aisle, as well as US media and academics.

On Tuesday, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of Biden’s own Democratic Party, Bob Menendez, chastised Blinken during the secretary’s second day of tough grilling by irate lawmakers.

Menendez stated in his opening remarks at the inquiry that the execution of the US pullout was “obviously and tragically defective.” “Accountability is required.”

The committee’s top Republican, Republican Senator James Risch, claimed that “the Biden administration alone is accountable for this catastrophe and its ramifications.”

Blinken strongly reacted to the allegations, blaming the Trump administration for putting the current government in a difficult position.

In February 2020, the United States and the Afghan Taliban struck an agreement that called for the removal of all US soldiers from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban met the terms of the accord.

“We were given a deadline. We did not inherit a strategy “On Monday, Blinken spoke before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

(210830) — WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2021 (Xinhua) — A paratrooper conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29, 2021. The U.S. Central Command announced Monday that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has completed, ending 20 years of U.S.-led invasion into the country. (U.S. Army Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/Handout via Xinhua)

He also stated that no one in the government anticipated how rapidly Afghan security forces would crumble, allowing terrorists to take over the country in a couple of days.

“Even the most pessimistic evaluations did not expect that government troops in Kabul would collapse while US forces were still present,” Blinken remarked.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican who has spent the last decade advocating for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, stated, “never in my darkest fears did anyone envisage such enormous stupidity.”

The senator also inquired about claims that a US drone attack in Kabul in late August killed a humanitarian worker and many children. Blinken refused to respond, stating that the situation is being investigated.

“You’d think you’d know if he’s an aid worker or an ISIS-K before you kill him with a predator drone,” Paul added, referring to an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the Islamic State. Blinken stated that the Pentagon and the State Department made a “exceptional effort” to evacuate Americans and Afghan friends before the remaining US personnel left last month.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson blasted the government for acting as if the pullout had been a resounding accomplishment. “If I simply read your testimony without watching any news, I’d think this was a great success,” Johnson added. “But I read the news, as most Americans do, and we see that this was a total disaster,” Johnson remarked. “Among many things, I suppose what concerns me the most is that alienation from reality.”

(210829) — NANGARHAR, Aug. 29, 2021 (Xinhua) — People gather at the site of an airstrike conducted by the U.S. against a planner for the Islamic State (ISIS) in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2021.
The Pentagon said on Saturday that two high-profile targets of ISIS-K, a local affiliate of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, were killed in a U.S. drone strike on Friday.
The strike came after a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport on Thursday which killed 13 U.S. service members and some 170 Afghans. ISIS-K had claimed responsibility for the attack. (Xinhua)

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen admitted that the situation in Afghanistan was the product of both Democratic and Republican administrations failing.

“I believe we need accounting because it is necessary for history and for our future, but let’s stop with the hypocrisy about who is to blame. There are many persons to blame, and we are all to blame “She stated.

Blinken is the first senior administration official to testify on Afghanistan after the tumultuous exit. Several Republican legislators have called for Blinken’s resignation. According to a Pew Research Center poll published last month, only 26% of Americans believe the Biden administration handled the Afghanistan issue effectively, while 42% say the administration did a terrible job and 29% believe the administration did merely a fair one.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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UNCHR has urged the international community to continue engaging with the Taliban

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Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), stated today that the international community should continue to engage with the Afghan Taliban.

On a news conference Friday during his tour to Pakistan, the UN official stated that the UNHCR is working with the temporary Taliban administration in Afghanistan on humanitarian issues and urged the rest of the world to do the same.

“The Taliban emphasized a desire for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the country as soon as possible since, as we see ourselves, things are extremely challenging.”

He stated that Afghanistan has been in severe need of financial assistance and that as time passes, the situation will worsen “Everything is required because the situation is dire. Food, medication, housing, and other basic requirements are required.”

He stated that the UNHCR will be able to expand up humanitarian assistance if it is sufficiently supported and resourced.

“It is critical that the international community establish the required direction (and) methods to maintain Afghanistan’s functioning. If public services, such as health care or education, fail and the state fails to operate, it would cause a much worse disaster than a humanitarian crisis.”

When asked about the fresh wave of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan, he stated that roughly 500,000 people had lately been displaced by violence due to fighting in their communities. There is, however, no migration of refugees into neighboring countries, notably Pakistan.

He praised Pakistan for facilitating humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, stating that he received some relief trucks from Pakistan during his visit to Afghanistan.

“Whether it is Pakistani or international donations going through here, we will need to use Pakistan to fly people in and out, as usual, Pakistan will play a very crucial role of assistance to the humanitarian activities within Afghanistan, and I am very happy for that.”

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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During the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, China anticipates 40 million domestic trips

Adam Layaan Kurik Riza

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According to the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., 40 million domestic journeys are expected in China during the four-day travel rush for the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

According to the firm, passenger trips are projected to peak on Sunday, the opening day of the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, with 11 million trips estimated on that day.

The railway passenger flow is likely to return to last year’s levels, according to the business, citing bookings made on 12306.cn, China’s official railway ticket reservation website.

The Mid-Autumn Celebration, which takes place on September 21 this year, is a traditional festival that represents family reunions.

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Global automakers and experts appeal for NEV collaboration

Adam Layaan Kurik Riza

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To attain the aim of carbon neutrality, major global automakers and experts have advocated for more extensive collaboration in the field of new energy vehicles (NEVs).

Speaking at the 3rd World New Energy Vehicle Congress (WNEVC), international participants stated that because China is the world’s largest auto market, they are eager to collaborate with Chinese partners to combat climate change and create a more beautiful world.

The three-day event, titled “Comprehensively advancing marketization, accelerating cross-industry integration, and collaboratively achieving carbon neutrality,” was held from September 15 to 17 in Haikou, the capital of south China’s Hainan Province.

British Trade Commissioner for China John Edwards said he urges more Chinese companies to seek collaborative opportunities with the UK and assist develop the battery and new energy vehicle markets.

“China and the United Kingdom both have extensive plans for zero-emission vehicles. I am confident that by exchanging ideas and working together, such as at this event, we can accelerate innovation and create a successful environment for meeting our zero-emission car goals “According to Edwards.

BMW, a business that has been active in the Chinese market for decades, has declared its support for China’s green transformation.

By cooperating with Chinese enterprises, the German manufacturer claimed it will deliver more zero-emission vehicles for the Chinese market and extend the number of public charging stations. BMW is forming partnerships with Chinese digital behemoths to assist startups in technological innovation, according to BMW Chief Development Officer Frank Weber in a video speech.

ZF, a global auto-system supplier, has established roughly 50 manufacturing businesses and four R&D centers in more than 20 Chinese cities.

Holger Klein, a member of ZF Group’s management board, stated that the company will continue to improve its innovation and development capabilities, as well as promote digital manufacturing for the Chinese NEV market, in order to contribute to China’s sustainable development and next-generation mobility.

Noting that China is the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, Hans Georg Engel, senior executive vice president of Daimler Greater China Ltd., stated that the company will establish an R&D center in Beijing with over 1,000 engineers and will continue to invest in China to improve its research capabilities.

Daimler, in particular, will focus on the research and development of electric vehicles and battery technology in order to give personalized goods to Chinese consumers, he added.

According to Liu Yunfeng, vice CEO of Volkswagen Group China, the German carmaker Volkswagen wants to create 17,000 high-power charging sites in China before 2025 and 32,000 by 2030, emphasizing that reaching carbon neutrality takes work from every country around the world.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, reiterated Liu’s views, urging intense cooperation in terms of technologies and markets to aid the development of the NEV industry in developing nations.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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