Latest: China describes “effective” talks with the Taliban


BEIJING – China says it has established “open and efficient communication and consultations with the Afghan Taliban”, after a meeting of group representatives and the Beijing ambassador in Kabul.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin did not provide details of Tuesday’s meeting between the deputy head of the Taliban’s political office, Abdul Salam Hanafi, and Ambassador Wang Yu.

But he said China saw Kabul as “an important platform and channel for both sides to discuss important issues of all kinds”.

China hosted a delegation led by senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in talks last month, before the group came to power in Kabul in a flash.

China has kept its embassy in the city open and says it has no plans to wholesale the evacuation of its citizens in Afghanistan, while ruthlessly criticizing the US for the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport.

“We have always respected Afghanistan’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity, pursued a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and adhered to a policy of friendship with the entire Afghan people,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

“China respects the Afghan people’s independent decision on its own future and destiny, supports the implementation of Afghanistan-led principles and is ready to continue to develop good neighborly relations of friendship and cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in peace and reconstruction,” Wang said.



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VILNIUS, Lithuania – A plane carrying the first group of Afghan interpreters working with Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan has landed in the Baltic country.

The defense ministry announced on Wednesday that a total of 50 people were flying from Kabul via Warsaw to Poland.

They are the first of 115 interpreters to co-operate with Lithuanian forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2013, and Lithuania plans to bring them all out of the country. The second group is expected to land in Vilnius later in the day.

In Norway, meanwhile, two planes from Afghanistan with a total of 278 passengers landed in Oslo, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.


LONDON – The British Foreign Secretary says he cannot give a precise time frame on the completion of UK evacuation flights from Afghanistan, but the mission will be completed by 31 August.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said “it is clear that troops will withdraw by the end of the month”.

US President Joe Biden has rejected pressure from Britain and other allies to extend the evacuation operation, saying it would end on August 31st. There are nearly 6,000 U.S. troops at the airport helping people escape the Taliban, along with smaller military contingents from other countries.

Raab said the British military would need time before the deadline to withdraw people and equipment, but “we will make the most of all the remaining time”.

He said British forces had airlifted 9,000 British citizens and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul airport since the Taliban captured the Afghan capital on 15 August.


MOSCOW – Russia is preparing to evacuate more than 500 people in four military planes from Afghanistan – the first air transport operation since the beginning of the evacuation from Kabul.

The defense ministry announced on Wednesday that it would transfer citizens of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine from Kabul by air.

Teams of medical workers will be present on each plane, the ministry said, should any of the evacuees seek medical help.

The evacuation will be carried out on the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ministry noted.


KAMPALA, Uganda – The Ugandan government says 51 people evacuated from Afghanistan have arrived in an East African country at the request of the United States.

Authorities said in a statement that the group, transported to Uganda by charter flight, arrived early Wednesday. The statement said they included men, women and children. No further details were given on the identity of the evacuees.

Ugandan officials said last week that up to 2,000 people fleeing the Taliban, which had taken over Afghanistan, would be housed in the country. They said Afghans would be brought to Uganda in small groups on a temporary arrangement before being relocated.

Uganda has long been a security ally of the United States, especially on security issues in the region.


CANBERRA, Australia – Australia said it helped evacuate 955 people on five flights from Kabul airport overnight as the danger in Afghanistan increased.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday thanked U.S., British and New Zealand defense forces for helping evacuate 2,650 people, including Afghan nationals, from the airport since Wednesday last week.

Tuesday was Australia’s most successful day in evacuating people, including Afghans who worked for the Australian government.

“There is still work to be done, but, of course, we know that security threats on the ground are still increasing,” Dutton told parliament.

The government would heed the advice of Australian Defense Force Chief General Angus Campbell “as much as possible to stay in the country to protect our own people and help those who have helped us,” Dutton added.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to comment on reports that up to 1,200 Afghans with Australian visas were denied from the airport.

Dutton said Australia has relocated 8,500 Afghans who have been helping Australia for the past five years.


SEOUL, South Korea – Seoul says about 380 people evacuated from Afghanistan will arrive in South Korea by military planes on Thursday.

Choi Jongmoon, the second deputy foreign minister, said at a briefing Wednesday that Afghans are the ones who worked for facilities in Afghanistan controlled by South Korea, including its embassy or members of their families.

Choi says the government has decided to bring them to South Korea given “ethical responsibility for our (Afghan) colleagues” and responsibility as a member of the international community.

He says Afghans will be sent to government-run temporary accommodation upon arrival in South Korea on Thursday.


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