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AFGHANISTAN: Taliban declares peaceful relations with other countries

The Taliban has declared that it wished for peaceful relations with other countries.

Speaking in its first official news conference in Kabul since the shock seizure of the city, the movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said: “We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” The spokesman asserted that the rights of women will be protected within the framework of Islam.

The group previously declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government, trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as thousands mobbed the city’s international airport in a desperate attempt to flee.

Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed as a Western security official told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the Kabul airport’s tarmac and runway – which troops from the United States control – were now clear of crowds.

The official said military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan have started taking off.

At least seven people died in Monday’s chaos, including several people who  clung  to the sides of a jet as it took off.

The Taliban has meanwhile declared the war in Afghanistan over and a senior leader said the group would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a new governance structure.

READ ALSO: Afghanistan Girls May Never See Classroom Again – Activist Malala Shot By Taliban In 2012 Laments

China said it was ready for “friendly relations” with the Taliban, while Russia and Iran also made diplomatic overtures.

Germany evacuates more people from second military flight out of Kabul

Meanwhile, a second German armed forces aircraft carrying 125 people left Kabul for Uzbekistan yesterday, with two further flights scheduled for later in the day, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed in a news conference in Berlin.

“Our evacuation operation, with the support of the Bundeswehr (German armed forces), is now in full swing…a second evacuation flight took off from Kabul about an hour ago and has brought 125 German citizens, Afghans and nationals of other countries to safety,” Maas said.

“One hundred more Germans are already in the military-secured area of the airport. The airlift will first lead to Tashkent in Uzbekistan and in the next step to Germany with special Lufthansa flights,” he added.

The German foreign minister said some Afghan workers had faced difficulties passing through Taliban security checkpoints to reach Kabul airport for evacuation flights, but noted that the situation on the ground “has stabilized.”

“With the Bundeswehr soldiers who are on the ground, we have organized a lock together with the United States, a gate at the airport, where the persons concerned can come, be received there and from there be taken to the secured area of the airport,” Maas said.

“The situation is much more dangerous because there is no promise of being let through at the relevant Taliban checkpoints,” he added.

Speaking in a later news conference, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer confirmed that the German military will operate three evacuation flights a day from Kabul, noting that a further 180 people are still waiting at the airport to be evacuated Tuesday evening.

The defense minister added that Germany’s ambassador to Afghanistan will travel to Doha to begin talks with the Taliban to secure the safe passage of Afghan workers via the German evacuation program.

North Macedonia to accept 450 Afghan refugees

North Macedonia will by the end of the week temporarily take in 450 Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover of their country and seeking visas to enter the United States, the Skopje government said.

North Macedonia is the third country in the Western Balkans, along with Albania and Kosovo, to have approved a request by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to admit Afghan refugees.

EU says will work with Taliban only if rights are respected

The European Union, EU has agreed to work with the Taliban if it respect fundamental rights, including those of women, and prevents the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorists, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said.

Josep Borrell outlined the EU’s stance in a statement after an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

US evacuations from Afghanistan to increase

The US says it will step up the pace of evacuations from Kabul airport, and plans to have one plane traveling out every hour by Wednesday, Major General William Taylor said at the Pentagon.

The US has airlifted about 1400 people out of Afghanistan, a combination of US citizens, Afghans who qualify under the US special immigrant visa (SIV) programme and people from other countries.

Taylor said there will be ‘approximately 4000 troops on the ground’ by the end of Tuesday with more to come in.

He said the airport is secure, and that the US mission hopes to be able to evacuate between 5000-9000 people a day from now until the White House mandated end of the mission August 31.

 Pakistan will not ‘unilaterally’ recognise Taliban government— minister

On its part, Pakistan’s government has said that it will not “unilaterally” recognise the Afghan Taliban as the government of Afghanistan, and will only take a decision on this after consultation with regional and international partners.

Speaking after a meeting of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan – which was one of three countries to recognise the Afghan Taliban’s previous regime in the 1990s – would not make its decision in isolation on this occasion.

“Pakistan will not take an isolated decision of accepting the Taliban government […] we are in contact with other countries and will make a decision in line with the world powers,” he said.

Chaudhry said Pakistan was “pleased” that the transfer of power in Kabul had occurred without bloodshed on Sunday.

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