Afghan President in Urgent Talks as Taliban Closer to Kabul

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Afghan President in Urgent Talks as Taliban Closer to Kabul


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was in urgent talks with local leaders and international partners as Taliban rebels moved closer to Kabul, capturing a town south of the capital which is one of the gateways to Kabul. entrance to the city.

“As president, my focus is on preventing the instability, violence and displacement of my people,” Ghani said in a brief televised address, as the United States and other countries scrambled in troops to help evacuate their embassies.

Ghani gave no sign of responding to a call from the Taliban to resign from everything to talk about a ceasefire and political settlement, saying that “the reintegration of the security and defense forces is our priority and that measures serious are taken in this regard ”.

He spoke shortly after insurgents captured Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province, 40 miles south of Kabul, according to a member of the local provincial council.

The Taliban did not meet much resistance, the council member said on condition of anonymity.

The city’s gain, a key staging post for a potential assault on Kabul, comes a day after insurgents captured the country’s second and third largest cities.

US troops have started to travel to Kabul to help evacuate embassy staff and other civilians, a US official said.

The Pentagon announced that two marine battalions and one infantry battalion would arrive in Kabul on Sunday evening, involving around 3,000 troops.

“They have arrived, their arrival will continue until tomorrow,” the official said.

An infantry brigade combat team will also be moving from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to act as a rapid reaction force for security in Kabul if needed, the Pentagon has said.

Britain and several other Western countries are also sending troops, as resistance from Afghan government forces crumbles and there are growing fears that an assault on Kabul is within days.

An Afghan government official confirmed on Friday that Kandahar, the economic center of the south, was under Taliban control as US-led international forces completed their withdrawal after 20 years of war.

Herat in the west, near the border with Iran, has also fallen into the hands of the hardline Islamist group.

The loss of Kandahar was a big blow to the government. It is the heart of the Taliban and is close to the town of Spin Boldak, one of the two main points of entry into Pakistan and a major source of tax revenue.

A US defense official said before the fall of Pul-e-Alam that there were fears that the Taliban – ousted from power in 2001 after the September 11 attacks on the United States – could step into Kabul by A few days.

“Kabul is not in an environment of imminent threat right now, but it is clear… if you just look at what the Taliban have done, you can see that they are trying to isolate Kabul,” the spokesperson said. Pentagon word, John Kirby.

Some embassies have started burning sensitive documents before evacuating, diplomats said.

The US embassy in the Afghan capital has informed staff that trash cans and an incinerator are available to destroy equipment, including papers and electronics, in order to “reduce the amount of sensitive material on the property,” according to one. opinion consulted by Reuters.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that “Afghanistan is spiraling out of control” and urged all parties to do more to protect civilians.

“Now is the time to stop the offensive. Now is the time to start serious negotiations. Now is the time to avoid a protracted civil war or the isolation of Afghanistan, ”Guterres told reporters in New York.

Many people in the capital were stocking up on rice and other food as well as first aid, residents said. Visa applications at embassies number in the tens of thousands, officials said.

The explosion of fighting has raised fears of a refugee crisis and a decline in the country’s human rights gains.

Some 400,000 civilians have been driven from their homes this year, including 250,000 since May, a UN official said.

The speed of the Taliban’s gains has led to recriminations over the US withdrawal, which was negotiated last year under the Trump administration.

Joe Biden said this week he does not regret his decision to proceed with the withdrawal. He noted that Washington had spent more than a billion dollars and lost thousands of troops in two decades, and called on the Afghan army and leaders to step up their efforts.

Opinion polls have shown that most Americans support Biden’s decision, but Republicans have criticized the way the Democratic president has handled the US pullout.

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