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Taliban, Myanmar regime unlikely to be let into UN for now, say diplomats

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A United Nations committee meeting on Wednesday is unlikely to allow Afghanistan’s Taliban or Myanmar’s junta to represent their countries at the 193-member world body, say diplomats.
Rival claims have been made for the seats of both countries with the Taliban and Myanmar’s junta pitted against ambassadors appointed by the governments they ousted this year. UN acceptance of the Taliban or Myanmar’s junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both.

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A nine-member UN credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the United States, will meet at UN headquarters to consider the credentials of all 193 members for the current session of the UN General Assembly.
The committee will likely defer its decisions on the representation of Afghanistan and Myanmar on the understanding that the current ambassadors for both countries remain in the seats, four diplomats told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
The committee — which also includes the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden — will then send its report on the credentials of all members to the UN General Assembly for approval before the end of the year.
Both the committee and the General Assembly traditionally take decisions on credentials by consensus, diplomats say.

Leverage

The Taliban, which seized power in mid-August from the internationally-recognized government, has nominated its Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador. The current UN. ambassador appointed by the ousted government, Ghulam Isaczai, has also asked to keep the seat.
When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 the ambassador of the government they toppled remained the UN representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the Taliban’s desire for international recognition is the only leverage other countries have to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s nominated UN envoy Shaheen posted on Twitter earlier this month: “We have all the conditions needed for occupying the seat of Afghanistan at UN. We hope legal requirements will supersede political preferences.”
Myanmar’s junta, which seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February, has put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its UN envoy.
Current Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun — appointed by Suu Kyi’s government — has also asked to renew his UN accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him over his opposition to the coup.
The former UN special envoy on Myanmar, who stepped down last month, warned that no country should recognize or legitimize the junta, while Guterres pledged in February to mobilize pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.”

Read more: In test, UN bypasses Taliban to pay $8 mln in salaries to Afghan health workers

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Saudi tourist killed by elephant in Uganda park

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A Saudi tourist was trampled to death by an elephant during a game drive at a popular park in Uganda, a wildlife official said Wednesday.

The attack happened on Tuesday at the Murchison Falls National Park when the man left the vehicle he was travelling in with friends, said Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesman Bashir Hangi.

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“They stopped along the way and the deceased went out of the car, an elephant charged at him, killed him on the spot,” Hangi said in a statement.

The victim was identified as Ayman Sayed Elshahany.

Park officials said police will investigate Elshahany’s death as they review security protocols to “avoid repeat of such incidents.”

Animal attacks are not unheard of in the East African country.

In 2018, a leopard snatched and ate the three-year-old son of a female game ranger at another park in the west of the country.

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US responds to Russia’s security demands in Ukraine crisis

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The US delivered its response to Russia’s security demands, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, the latest step in the high-stakes diplomacy over Moscow’s buildup of troops on Ukraine’s border.

The response delivered by Ambassador John Sullivan on Wednesday sets out “a serious diplomatic path forward, Blinken told reporters in Washington. “We are open to dialogue, we prefer diplomacy. It remains up to Russia to decide how to respond. We are ready either way.

The report delivered to officials in Moscow largely sticks to points made by Blinken and other US officials: It rejects Russia’s demand that NATO close its door to potential Ukraine membership in the future, but offers suggestions for areas of mutual interest, such as arms control talks and greater transparency over troop movements and military exercises, Blinken said.

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“We will uphold the principle of NATO’s open door, Blinken said, repeating the US and European position that Russia shouldn’t get to dictate which nations join the military alliance.

“We also do lay out areas where we believe that together we could actually advance security for everyone, including for Russia, Blinken said.

The top US diplomat said he expects to speak with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the “coming days, adding that the US response won’t be released publicly.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to speak to reporters soon on the alliance’s response to Russia.

Tensions have soared as Russia masses more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, though officials in Moscow have repeatedly said they have no intention of invading the country.

Nevertheless, a top official of the pro-Kremlin ruling party who’s also a senior member of the Senate, Andrey Turchak, suggested it could send “certain weapons to the separatists it backs in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Openly arming the separatists would undermine Russia’s claims — rejected by Ukraine and the West — that it’s not a party to the conflict.

Russia has said it will decide on whether to continue diplomatic efforts with the US and its allies based on the written answers.

The Kremlin has said it wants the US to respond to its key demands — no further expansion of NATO to the east, no deployments of weapons there that can strike Russia and a pullback of alliance forces in the region — even though Washington has made clear those are non-starters.

Moscow has said previously that the talks the US did offer publicly on limiting missiles and reducing risks around military maneuvers were positive, but not sufficient to address its security concerns.

Even as talks continued and Russia awaited the replies in recent days, the Kremlin continued its buildup of troops, tanks and equipment near Ukraine’s borders, with a major deployment to Belarus for exercises. Russia has said the forces aren’t a threat to anyone, but has refused Western calls to reverse the buildup.

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US to shut down Afghan embassy, strip diplomats of immunity: Sources

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The US government has informed Afghanistan’s diplomats that they will shut down the embassy in Washington and the consulate missions in Los Angeles and New York, sources familiar with the matter tell Al Arabiya English.

The Afghan diplomats will also be stripped of their diplomatic immunity, according to a memo sent to the Afghan diplomats at the beginning of the week.

– Developing

Read more: Once-bustling Afghan Embassy in US down to few diplomats

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