Category Archives: General

Taliban Attempts to Reassure Pompeo Amid Russia ‘Bounty’ Controversy

ISLAMABAD – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked the Taliban to uphold their commitment to cease attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Pompeo held a video conference with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the insurgent group’s deputy leader and chief of its political office in Qatar, amid growing demands from U.S. lawmakers for President Donald Trump to investigate news reports that Russia had offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“The secretary made clear the expectation for the Taliban to live up to their commitments, which include not attacking Americans,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Tuesday.

For its part, the Taliban said Baradar has reassured Pompeo the Islamist insurgency does not allow anyone to use Afghanistan to plot attacks against other nations.

“It is not true. We have already rejected that,” Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told VOA from the Qatari capital of Doha when asked whether Pompeo raised the issue of alleged Russia-Taliban collaboration.

“Baradar once again reiterated that the Taliban are committed not to allow anyone to use Afghan soil (to launch attacks) against any country,” Shaheen said.

In an exclusive story published last week, The New York Times, while citing anonymous officials, reported that Trump had been told about the alleged Russian bounties but did nothing in response.

Trump has denied getting any such briefing.

“Intelligence is verified before it reaches the president of the United States. And in this case, it was not verified,’’ White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday when reporters asked why the president was not informed.

Shaheen said that Baradar also reaffirmed his group’s commitment to a peace-building agreement with Washington, which requires all U.S. and coalition forces to withdraw from Afghanistan by July 2021 in return for Taliban counterterrorism guarantees.

The pact, signed in Doha on Feb. 29, also binds the insurgents to seek political reconciliation with other Afghan groups through direct negotiations to bring an end to decades of hostilities in the country.

However, increasing battlefield violence and a controversial slow-moving prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban have delayed long-awaited intra-Afghan negotiations that were originally scheduled for March 10.

Shaheen said Baradar told Pompeo the delay in intra-Afghan talks was because the Kabul government did not release all 5,000 Taliban prisoners as stipulated in the accord.

Afghan officials say they have released about 4,000 insurgent prisoners so far while Shaheen said his group has also freed 737 out of the promised 1,000 Afghan forces being held by the Taliban.

Shaheen noted that Pompeo called for all Afghan warring sides to do more to reduce violence, claiming the chief U.S. diplomat acknowledged that the insurgent group has “lowered the war graph by not attacking cities and major military bases.”

Under provisions of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, insurgents are not supposed to attack  American and coalition troops, and their required to reduce battlefield operations against Afghan security forces in the run-up to intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

Shaheen said that in the conference with Pompeo, the Taliban chief negotiator called for the release of the remaining Afghan prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay detention center. Baradar also demanded Washington release Hajji Bashar Noorzai, an Afghan drug lord serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his role in international narcotics trafficking, the Taliban spokesman said.

 

Source: Voice of America

His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh Slated to Launch UAE-China Virtual Culture Week.

His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE Minister of State, will launch the UAE-China virtual culture week, a five-day online event featuring talks, musical performances, and cultural masterclasses in both China and the UAE.

Organized by Falcon and Associates and Chinese graduates from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s Dubai Business Associates program, the event will celebrate the positive impact of culture on society and be broadcast live to millions of homes around the world.

Speaking about the event, His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh stressed the event’s importance, noting that countries must work together to build trust and understanding in order to successfully tackle global challenges. Cultural and public diplomacy, His Excellency added, aid in eliminating divisions between nations and peoples and enable the international community to work together in addressing political, economic, and social issues of shared concern.

Moreover, Nusseibeh affirmed the benefits of the UAE and China further developing cross-cultural communication and dialogue in light of the COVID-19 crisis, considering the ability of cultural exchange to positively influence society during challenging times.

For his part, His Excellency Dr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the People’s Republic of China, said, “Strategically located at the crossroads of East and West, Dubai and the UAE are a natural hub for exchange and collaboration. We connect countries across Asia into a single network and facilitate trade with the Middle East, Africa, Europe and beyond. As a global gateway on the New Silk Road, Dubai and the UAE are perfectly positioned to contribute to China’s One Belt, One Road strategy.

This exciting UAE-China virtual culture week is a natural extension of that relationship, and I look forward to participating in this engaging event.”

It is worth noting that this year’s events represent the first-ever UAE-China cultural marathon held virtually in continuation of the inaugural UAE-China Culture Week launched in 2018 on the occasion of China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE Foreign Minister, Bulgarian counterpart discuss ways to curb COVID-19.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has reviewed ways of fostering bilateral relations between the UAE and Bulgaria with Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In a recent phone call, Sheikh Abdullah and Zaharieva discussed boosting joint cooperation in various fields, including economic, commercial, tourism and education.

The ministers also discussed regional developments and a number of issues of common concern, including Libya.

They reviewed the latest coronavirus developments and the measures being taken to fight it. They also emphasised the importance of mutual cooperation and solidarity in combating the pandemic and in addressing its effects at various levels.

Sheikh Abdullah praised the distinguished relations that unite the UAE and Bulgaria and the ongoing efforts to enhance them across the board.

The Bulgarian Deputy PM, in turn, highlighted the strong UAE-Bulgaria ties and the continuous growth and development witnessed by the two countries.

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, also took part in the conference call.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE Endorsed by Consensus by UN’s Asia-Pacific Membership for Security Council Seat.

The United Arab Emirates was endorsed by consensus by the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) for its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council for the 2022-2023term during the June 2020 meeting of the APG chaired by H.E. Zhang Jun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the UN.

 

“We thank the APG for their support and trust in the UAE as their representative on the Council during 2022-2023,” H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, stated.

 

“We are stronger when we are united to confront the world’s most complex problems and when we work together to achieve a more peaceful and inclusive global community. The Security Council is an indispensable platform for resolving conflict and for promoting stability and security for all. The UAE’s unwavering commitment to the Charter of the UN is reflected in our ongoing work to advance inclusion, build resilience, foster innovation, and secure peace – objectives which all members of the APG share.”

 

It is an established practice for the Group to consider the endorsement of candidatures to the Security Council one year prior to the election date. During the meeting, H.E. Mohamed Al Hassan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Oman to the UN, requested the endorsement of the APG for the UAE’s candidature, which was seconded by H.E. T. S. Tirumurti, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the UN. The UAE’s candidature was further endorsed by over 40 members of the group during the meeting. Members praised the UAE’s commitment to upholding the Charter of the UN and its leadership in consolidating peace in the Arab region as well as its efforts directed towards championing inclusivity, countering terrorism, promoting multilateralism, and advancing the critical role of women in the pursuit of peace and security. The prominent role the UAE plays in securing peace and security globally and in future-driven planning was also recognized by the membership.

 

The UAE is the only candidate for the Arab swing seat and received the endorsement of the League of Arab States Council at its 137th regular session Ministerial Meeting in March 2012.The UAE served on the Council previously in 1986-1987. Elections for the 2022-2023 term on the Security Council will be held in June 2021.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE leaders congratulate President of Seychelles on Independence Day.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of congratulations to Danny Faure, President of Seychelles, on the occasion of his country’s Independence Day, marked on 29th June.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have also dispatched similar messages to President Faure.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE Affirms Commitment to Strengthening International Cooperation with Provision of COVID-19 Aid and PPE to 1 Million Medical Professionals Worldwide.

The United Arab Emirates today advanced its commitment to strengthening international cooperation after assisting more than 1 million medical workers worldwide through the supply of over 1,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical and food aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the landmark announcement, Her Excellency Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, remarked, “Since its very founding, the UAE has pursued bonds of friendly cooperation and solidarity with other countries, believing that nations must set aside their differences in favor of unity and the greater good of humankind. Today’s milestone of assisting 1 million healthcare workers affirms the UAE’s commitment to extending a hand of cooperation to the world, regardless of the religion, race, or ideology of recipients.”

“The clear vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was not clouded when this pandemic hit the world. If anything, they doubled down on helping all those in need with what we can as we also manage our own challenges. With these values, respect for our common humanity, and desire to help those in need, the UAE further reasserts the vision of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, who believed in the collective responsibility of helping his fellow man,” Her Excellency added.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE has been a leader in global humanitarian efforts to stem the virus’ spread. As the most active provider of foreign COVID-19 assistance in the world, the UAE has ensured that the geographical breadth of its aid knows no filters of race or religion, providing assistance in times of need to 70 countries, including China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Russia, Yemen, and Afghanistan, among others.

Moreover, the UAE has partnered with numerous international organizations to boost the effectiveness and reach of its COVID-19 assistance. The world’s largest humanitarian hub at Dubai’s International Humanitarian City is driving the COVID-19 response, with around 80 percent of World Health Organization-procured supplies transiting through the area. Capitalizing on the UAE’s geographic positioning and excellent logistics infrastructure, DIHC has served as a critical platform of assistance.

On May 4, the UAE, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), launched an international air bridge operation to provide a lifeline of essential health and humanitarian supplies to nations grappling with the impact of COVID-19.

That day, the UAE also took part in a global pledging conference hosted by European leaders to raise €7.5 billion to discover, produce, and distribute a vaccine for COVID-19.
Furthermore, in line with the UAE’s efforts to contribute to the global scientific community’s understanding of COVID-19, the UAE has shared genomic sequencing and mutation data on various global databases, including the open-source COVID-19 genome database Nexstrain, to help scientists worldwide trace the spread of outbreaks.

Whether through the provision of PPE, sharing knowledge of genetic sequencing, or ensuring that vaccines reach all those in need, the UAE will continue to be a reliable partner and a voice for good.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE leaders congratulate President of Madagascar on Independence Day.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a message of congratulations to President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar on the occasion of his country’s Independence Day.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also sent similar messages to President Rajoelina.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed dispatched similar messages to Prime Minister of Madagascar Christian Ntsay on the occasion.

 

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE Sends Additional Aid to Iran in Fight against COVID-19.

The UAE sent an aid plane carrying 16 metric tons of urgent medical supplies to Iran to bolster the country’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This aid will assist approximately 16,000 medical professionals as they work to contain the virus.
This aid plane is the fourth to be sent by the UAE to Iran since March. On March 16, the UAE dispatched two aid planes carrying more than 33 metric tons of critical medical supplies, followed by another aircraft on March 3 containing 7.5 metric tons of medical supplies in cooperation with the World Health Organization.
“The UAE’s efforts to operate numerous emergency medical flights to assist Iran’s medical sector reflect the authenticity of the UAE’s humanitarian approach and the spirit of tolerance and solidarity embedded in UAE policies. The UAE has long stood with the leadership and peoples of other countries in difficult times, supporting them and helping save their lives without regard to any other considerations,” said H.E. Saif Al Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“The UAE hopes that these supplies will enhance the capacity of medical staff in Iran and provide them with greater protection.”

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs