UN Security Council adopts Afghanistan resolution, China and Russia abstain

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A divided UN Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution calling on the Taliban to allow safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan but did not mention the creation of a safe zone in Kabul, as suggested by the French president on Sunday.

The resolution, which had 13 votes in favor and abstentions by Russia and China, also stressed the importance of maintaining humanitarian access, upholding human rights, reaching an inclusive political settlement and combating terrorism.

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The US on Monday completed a chaotic evacuation of its forces from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after it invaded in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

US-backed forces ousted Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in retaliation for harboring the al Qaeda militant group blamed for those attacks, only to see the Taliban return to power after a lightning advance across Afghanistan this year.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that France, and others were working on a UN proposal aimed at establishing a safe zone in Kabul to allow safe passage for people trying to leave Afghanistan.

Monday’s resolution, however, did not refer to a safe zone. Instead, it “expects” the Taliban to keep its commitments “including regarding the safe, secure, and orderly departure from Afghanistan of Afghans and all foreign nationals.”

The resolution did not specify any provisions to punish the Taliban if it failed to allow such departures or take the other steps it urged.

A suicide bombing on Thursday outside the teeming Kabul airport gates that was claimed by the Islamic State group - an adversary of both the US and the Taliban - killed scores of Afghans and 13 US troops.

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