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US delegation to meet Taliban in first high-level talks: officials

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The high-level US delegation will include officials from the State Department, USAID and the US intelligence community, and will press the Taliban to ensure continued safe passage for US citizens and others out of Afghanistan, the officials say.

A US delegation will meet with senior Taliban representatives in Doha on Saturday and Sunday in their first face-to-face meeting at a senior level since Washington pulled its troops from Afghanistan and the group took over the country, two senior administration officials have told Reuters.

The high-level US delegation will include officials from the State Department, USAID and the US intelligence community, will press the Taliban to ensure continued safe passage for US citizens and others out of Afghanistan and to release kidnapped US citizen Mark Frerichs, the officials said.

Another top priority will be to hold the Taliban to its commitment that it will not allow Afghanistan to again become a hotbed for Al Qaeda or other militants while pressing the group to improve access for humanitarian aid as the country faces the prospect of a “really severe and probably impossible to prevent” economic contraction, US officials said.

READ MORE: Taliban warns against isolating Afghanistan, ready for talks

‘Any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions’

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, who has for years spearheaded US dialogue with the Taliban and been a key figure in peace talks with the group, will not be part of the delegation.

The US team will include the State Department’s Deputy Special Representative Tom West as well as top USAID humanitarian official Sarah Charles. On The Taliban side, cabinet officials will be attending, officials said.

“This meeting is a continuation of the pragmatic engagements with the Taliban that we’ve had ongoing on matters of vital national interest,” said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions. They need to establish a sustained track record,” the official said.

US-allied Afghans at risk

The United States’ two decades-long occupation of Afghanistan culminated in a hastily organised airlift in August which saw more than 124,000 civilians including Americans, Afghans and others being evacuated as the Taliban took over. But thousands of other US-allied Afghans at risk of Taliban persecution were left behind.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large over Afghanistan. They are trying to formulate how to engage with the Taliban without granting it the legitimacy it seeks while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

Many Afghans have started selling their possessions to pay for ever-scarcer food.

The departure of US-led forces and many international donors robbed the country of grants that financed 75% of public spending, according to the World Bank.

While there was an improvement for humanitarian actors get access to some areas that they haven’t been in a decade, problems still persisted, the US official said, adding that the US delegation would press Taliban to improve.

“Right now, we are facing some real access issues….There are a lot of challenges in ensuring that female aid workers are provided unimpeded access to all areas,” the official said and added that Washington needed to see an improvement by the Taliban on this front “if we are to contemplate even more robust humanitarian assistance.”

READ MORE: UN agency warns Afghanistan at risk of ‘imminent’ famine

Pressure on women’s rights

While the Taliban has promised to be more inclusive than when it led the country from 1996 to 2001, the United States has repeatedly said it will judge the new Taliban government based on its deeds not its words.

The Taliban drew from its inner high echelons to fill top posts in Afghanistan’s new provisional government announced last month, including an associate of the group’s founder as premier and a wanted man on a US terrorism list as interior minister. There were no outsiders and no women in the cabinet.

The European Union foreign policy chief said on Sunday its behaviour up to now was “not very encouraging.”

“We will certainly press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans including women and girls and to form an inclusive government with broad support,” the US official said.

READ MORE: Taliban-run Kabul municipality orders female workers to stay home

He added that there were discrepancies between the Taliban’s promises of continued safe passage and implementation.

“As a practical matter, their implementation of their commitments have been uneven. It is true that sometimes we receive assurances from certain levels but then follow through on those assurances has truly been uneven,” the official said.

The United States has directly facilitated the departure of 105 US citizens and 95 lawful permanent residents out of Afghanistan since August 31, when US withdrawal was completed, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.

He declined to provide a precise figure for those remaining, but said the agency was in contact with “dozens of Americans in Afghanistan who wish to leave” but that the number was dynamic and constantly changing.

READ MORE: Moscow invites Taliban to Afghanistan talks

Source: Reuters (www.trtworld.com)

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President and First Lady depart to Bahrain on an official visit

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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed have departed for Bahrain on an official visit.

The Spokesperson at the President’s Office Miuvaan Mohamed said President Solih will be visiting Bahrain from October 5-8 at the invitation of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain.

During the visit, President Solih is scheduled to sign a number of high-level agreements with Bahrain, which will further strengthen the friendly relations between the two countries.

President Solih last travelled abroad to the United Kingdom (UK) last month to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Source: psmnews

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Education sector essential for building nation’s workforce: President

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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated the education sector is essential for building the nation’s workforce and human resources. He made the statement in a written address to the nation on World Teachers’ Day 2022.

In the address, President Solih reflected on the changes in the education sector over the years, noting the unprecedented advances in science and technology. He emphasised the importance of teachers familiarising with the new technology and modern teaching techniques and said the goal of the education sector should be to raise children who are knowledgeable enough to adapt to these advances.

Additionally, President Solih said anyone who wants to bring positive changes to society should begin their work in the education sector since societal reform is closely linked to the education sector. He went on to say the education sector is essential for building the nation’s workforce and human resources. He conveyed his best wishes to all teachers and educators in the Maldives on the occasion of Teachers’ Day and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for their invaluable service to the nation.

In an earlier tweet, President Solih conveyed his gratitude and deep appreciation to teachers across the Maldives by highlighting the positive impression that teachers leave on students. He said individuals owe much to their selfless hard work to educate children and to guide and prepare them for life.

The theme of World Teachers’ Day 2022 is The Transformation of Education Begins with Teachers.

 

Source: psmnews

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China urges U.S. to end police violence against Black Americans during UN session

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A senior Chinese diplomat on Monday urged the U.S. to take concrete action to address systemic racism, racial discrimination and police violence in the country.

In the United States, tens of millions of African Americans continue to suffer from discrimination and injustice of all kinds, and justice and equality are just empty laws for them, said Jiang Duan, minister of the Chinese Mission to the UN at Geneva, during the 51st regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Vienna.

Noting that African-Americans in the U.S. face unfair law enforcement, Jiang said that based on the statistics, they are more than twice as likely as white people to be shot by police, 2.9 times as likely to die due to police brutality, and nearly six times as likely to be incarcerated.

He said colonialism and the slave trade were the root causes of racism and racial discrimination and that although this dark chapter of human history has been turned over, the ideas of “white supremacy” that underpinned it remains.

Referring to George Floyd’s death, which sparked international protests about racial injustice, Jiang said China urges the U.S. to take action to solve the domestic problems of systemic racism, racial discrimination and police violence, fully and conscientiously implement the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the UNHRC, and implement the Durban Declaration and Program of Action so that the tragedies like Floyd’s will not be repeated.

China stands ready to work with all parties to combat all forms of racial discrimination, ensuring that all people can live in dignity and build an inclusive, equal and free society, Jiang said.

 

Source: CGTN

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