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




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 (


How U.S. “de-risking” trick will jeopardize global economy





The so-called “de-risking” is, in essence, “de-sinicization” and “reversing globalization.”

The international community has issued stern warnings over the global risks caused by the “de-risking” rhetoric.

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) — Despite its much hyped rhetoric of the so-called “looking to de-risk and diversify,” the United States has in deed hastened its scheme to “decouple from China.”

Now by roping in more allies, Washington seeks to forge a parallel system to shut China out from such fields as global economy and trade, as well as advanced technology.

Designed to hoodwink the world into the ostensible purpose of “de-risking,” Washington’s scheme may well incur enormous risks to the deeply-integrated global economy and supply chains, spurring further division and untended losses across the world.

Following the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, the United States convened a so-called “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)” ministerial meeting on May 27, calling on trade ministers of 14 countries to form a council to coordinate supply chain activities and a so-called “Crisis Response Network” to give early warnings to “IPEF” countries of potential supply disruptions.

Four days later, the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) held its fourth ministerial meeting, in which America and the EU agreed to enhance collaboration “to address non-market policies, practices, and economic coercion.”

The United States, through these multilateral meetings, attempted to frame China as posing the alleged “potential risks,” so as to “de-risk” and in actuality contain China.

The so-called strategy of “de-risking,” as the Foreign Affairs magazine pointed out, aims to achieve three broad goals to contain China — limiting China’s abilities in strategic sectors that have national security implications, such as cutting-edge semiconductors and other advanced technologies; reducing Beijing’s leverage over the West by eroding Chinese dominance of the market for certain essential inputs, including critical minerals; and restricting the influence of the Chinese market in the world. The essence of “de-risking” is to create “a small yard with high fences” targeting China and make a more refined attempt to “decouple economies or sever supply chains,” with the aim of excluding and suppressing China.

The international community has issued stern warnings over the global risks caused by the “de-risking” rhetoric. Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has pointed out that “de-risking” instead of “decoupling” from China will also lead to a more fragmented and “decoupled” world economy, arguing that a fragmented global economy would split the world into mutually competing regional blocs, and there would be less trade, investment and the spread of ideas, all of which are key to the world’s economic progress.

So, is it actually feasible for the United States to promote “de-sinicization” in the name of “de-risking”? The answer is definitely no. There are at least three hurdles that the United States can hardly overcome.

First, it’s hard to change the mutually beneficial market structure for Chinese and U.S. companies. After all, it’s their nature for companies to pursue profits, and they will not blindly follow government orders that run against market rules. Second, for consumers, the absence of “Made in China” products would mean higher prices and more severe inflation. Finally, while Washington schemes to instigate allies to contain China together, it is not in the interest of most countries, including European nations, to do so and the costs would be extremely high.

The so-called “de-risking” is, in essence, “de-sinicization” and “reversing globalization.”

China is the world’s second-largest economy, a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions, and the largest manufacturing country. The world cannot do without China. Ignoring such reality, the United States has been coercing other countries into taking sides, which not only seriously disrupts the global market, but also threatens the stability of the global production and supply chain.

Besides, as China has developed ever-closer economic ties with the rest of the world, the cost of “de-risking” or “decoupling” from China is actually far greater than some countries can expect and afford. More importantly, for much of the world, China is not a risk but a source of opportunities.

Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China has accumulated huge advantages in infrastructure, market size, talent pool and industrial clusters. China has been a magnet for global commercial forces.

During his China visit in late May, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk praised the country’s vitality and potential, voiced confidence in the Chinese market, and expressed his willingness to deepen cooperation.

Echoing Musk, other international business tycoons like Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Laxman Narasimhan, new global CEO of the U.S. coffee giant Starbucks, have also expressed their hopes of expanding business in the world’s second-largest economy.

Under no circumstances could crafty word games, employed by Washington’s China hawks, serve to break market rules, cut industrial links, or block exchanges between China and other countries, let alone impede China’s peaceful development. Any attempt to alienate China from the rest of the world is fated to come to naught.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Nasheed touts parliamentary system as fix for delay in ministers’ response





Speaker Mohamed Nasheed stated during the parliamentary sitting Tuesday that switching to a parliamentary system is the solution to delays in response from government ministers to queries by MPs.

During Tuesday’s sitting, Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz expressed concern over the delay in getting a response from government ministers.

He said that while parliamentary regulations require ministers to respond to question from MPs within 14 days, ministers usually take two-three months to send a response.

Riyaz asked the Speaker to solve the issue.

“I called the Secretariat of the Parliament even yesterday, because of the lack of response to some of the questions I have sent. I was told the ministers hadn’t had time to send a response because they are so busy. I don’t believe the regulations states that ministers must send answers when they have the time,” he said.

Nasheed responded that he doesn’t believe the delay in response is from ministers alone, and said it would continue to be a recurrent problem so long as the Parliament doesn’t switch to a parliamentary system.

“All of you would agree that expediting this requires changing the entire system of the Parliament. This will continue to happen as long as the Parliament does not switch to a parliamentary system,” he said.

MPs are waiting for answers to 45 questions from ministers, 22 of them in writing.

Nasheed said the Parliament will not be able to clear the backlog even if 10 ministers are summoned for questioning in a single day.

Nasheed has long advocated for a parliamentary system in Maldives, something which he often finds himself at odds with other political leaders over.


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Sri Lanka to require heavy metals report for fruit imports





COLOMBO, May 30 (Xinhua) — Importers of fruit into Sri Lanka will be required to obtain a report on heavy metals starting from June 1 as part of the country’s efforts to improve food safety, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The new requirement came after a recent survey by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, which found that many imported fruit samples were contaminated with lead, the ministry said in a statement.

The heavy metals report must come from an accredited and independent laboratory from the exporting country and will be a mandatory requirement for the release of fruit consignments into the country.

Importers are advised not to import any fruit with heavy metals above the Codex levels, as they will be rejected at the port of entry, said the ministry.

The country has been working to strengthen its food safety regulations in recent years, in response to concerns about the safety of imported food.

Source(s): Xinhua

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