US Reaches Out to Russia, China on Afghanistan

Merkel calls developments 'bitter, dramatic, and awful'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 16, 2021 6:30 PM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2021 6:55 PM CDT
US Reaches Out to Russia, China on Afghanistan
An Airbus A400M transport aircraft of the German Air Force takes off early this morning from the Wunstorf air base in the Hanover region Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.   (Moritz Frankenberg/dpa via AP)

The Biden administration is reaching out to top rivals Russia and China as the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate amid a scramble to evacuate Americans, other foreigners and at-risk Afghans from the Kabul airport. The outreach also comes amid concerns that either or both Moscow and Beijing might stymie an international consensus on isolating the Taliban should conditions worsen, the AP reports. The State Department says Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Monday to his Chinese and Russian counterparts about “developments in Afghanistan, including the security situation.” China has in recent weeks expressed an interest in working with the Taliban—while Russia has its own history in Afghanistan. Earlier Monday, China said its embassy in Kabul remains open and is willing to assist with Afghan reconstruction.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Lavrov and Blinken “discussed the situation in Afghanistan after the flight of the country’s leader, disintegration of the existing government bodies and a de-facto ongoing regime change." It said Lavrov had shared "Russian assessments of the situation” and Moscow’s contacts with “representatives of all main political forces in Afghanistan in the interest of ensuring stability and order." More:

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the developments in Afghanistan “bitter, dramatic, and awful.” Merkel told reporters on Monday night that the “breathtaking speed” with which the Taliban have taken over is especially bitter for the “millions of Afghans who supported a more liberal society and who counted on the support of the Western countries when it comes to democracy, education, women’s rights and who also had achieved important progress."
  • The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday he has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Afghanistan. Johnson said he planned to host a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven leaders in the next few days, Downing Street said. "He stressed the need for the international community to come together and take a unified approach on Afghanistan, both in terms of recognizing any future government and in working to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis,” his office said in a statement.
  • The UN Security Council is calling for an immediate halt to hostilities in Afghanistan and establishment of a new government “that is united, inclusive and representative” and that also includes women. The council said in its first statement since the Taliban takeover that "institutional continuity and adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, as well as the safety and security of all Afghan and international citizens, must be ensured."
  • The UN resident coordinator in Afghanistan says the UN will continue to work with the "de facto authorities" to provide humanitarian assistance after the Taliban takeover. Ramiz Alakbarov told the AP on Monday that the recent fighting had displaced some 600,000 people, and that because of the fluidity of the situation, humanitarian teams are not able to help everywhere.
  • Some two dozen human rights experts working with the United Nations say countries must not “stand on the sidelines” now that the Taliban — a UN-listed terror organization—have seized control of Afghanistan. A sharply worded statement on Monday demanded action from the UN Security Council. The experts denounced the Taliban’s "relentless campaign" against civilians, aid workers and journalists that have included assassinations, illegal restrictions on the rights of women and girls, and “mass executions of civilians."
(Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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