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China: US, allies must be held accountable for rights violations in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defense shows a British soldier (L) and a member of the US Armed Forces at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, on August 22, 2021. (Via AFP)

The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations (UN) says the US and its NATO allies should be held accountable for the human rights violations they committed in Afghanistan during the 20-year-long war on the country.

"The US, UK, Australia, and other countries must be held accountable for the violation of human rights committed by their military in Afghanistan and the evolution of this current session should cover this issue," China's UN Ambassador Chen Xu said on Tuesday in an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council on Afghanistan.

"Under the banner of democracy and human rights, the US and other countries carry out military interventions in other sovereign states and impose their own model on countries with vastly different history and culture" and cause "great suffering," Chen added.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan removed the Taliban from power 20 years ago, but it worsened the security situation in the country. The militants intensified their offensive and rapidly overran major cities in recent weeks, as the US-led foreign forces enforced what was seen as a hasty withdrawal.

The Taliban laid siege to Kabul on August 15 shortly after then-Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

For the past two weeks, Kabul's airport has been the scene of chaos and sporadic violence, with panicked Afghan and foreign nationals desperately trying to catch evacuation flights out of the country, prompting officials there to enforce restrictions.

'Sanctions against Taliban will be counterproductive'

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday reacted to reports that world leaders at the upcoming G7 meeting could consider new sanctions on the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan.

Wang Wenbin, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, denounced the potential imposition of sanctions on the Taliban as "counterproductive" and called on the international community to support chances for positive developments in the war-torn country.

"Afghanistan is an independent and sovereign country. The United States and its allies should learn from the lessons of history, reflect, and act prudently on issues related to Afghanistan. Imposing sanctions and pressure at every turn cannot solve the problem and will only be counterproductive," Wang said.

"The international community should encourage and promote the development of the situation in Afghanistan in a positive direction, support peaceful reconstruction, improve the well-being of the people, and enhance its capacity for independent development," the spokesperson added.

At a virtual G7 summit planned for later on Tuesday, the leaders of the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan are to discuss whether to recognize or impose sanctions on the Taliban-controlled government in Afghanistan. The G7 leaders are also due to hold talks on their European partners' call on Washington to push back the timeline on ending the deployment of forces in Afghanistan.

US, allies cannot evacuate all Afghans before deadline: Germany

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that Western allies would not be able to fly the entire vulnerable Afghan nationals out of the country before Washington's planned withdrawal deadline on August 31.

"Even if the evacuation goes on until August 31 or even a few days longer, it will not be enough to allow those who we, or the United States, want to fly out," Maas told Germany's Bild TV.

If the August 31 deadline is kept, then the Americans "will certainly need two days to fly out their own military alone," said Maas, thereby possibly bringing forward the last day for the civilian evacuation flights.

Germany has so far flown out around 3,800 people from Afghanistan. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has come under heavy fire for misjudging the Taliban's lightning advance to seize the country, and for failing to evacuate Afghans who worked for the NATO forces early enough.

US scraps plan to use overseas bases for Afghan refugees

According to two unknown sources who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday, the United States has decided to drop the idea of using its overseas military bases in South Korea and Japan to temporarily house Afghan refugees following the Taliban's takeover of the country.

US officials "appeared to have figured out better sites and decided to remove both countries from the list because of logistics and geography among other reasons," one of the sources said.

The source added that the South Korean government had responded positively when the United States had first floated the idea.

The two unidentified sources told Reuters that South Korea was working with the United States to evacuate some 400 Afghans who had worked with South Korean troops and relief workers, and bring them to Seoul.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry earlier said three military planes had been sent to Afghanistan and neighboring countries to carry out a mission to airlift the Afghan workers out.

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