Мінфін розмістив ОВДП майже на 6,5 мільярда гривень

Як інформує міністерство, «найбільший попит був зосереджений на 1,5-річних та 3-річних паперах, від розміщення яких до державного бюджету було залучено 1,261 та 1,102 мільярда гривень»

EU to Meet to Discuss Preventing Uncontrolled Migration From Afghanistan

European Union ministers will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss preventing uncontrolled migration from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s seizure of the country, according to a statement drafted for the meeting.EU member states hope to prevent a refugee crisis like the one fueled by Syria’s civil war in 2015. The EU was unprepared for the influx of more than a million refugees and migrants that created splits among members, while also energizing far-right parties, as camps in Greece, Italy and other countries became filled.A wave of migrants from Afghanistan is likely to escalate tensions among EU members. The draft says the member nations likely will fund the housing for refugees in countries bordering Afghanistan to prevent them from coming to Europe.In a letter sent to EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson before the meeting, Amnesty International said the 27-nation bloc “must refrain from extremely damaging responses that put emphasis on keeping the EU’s border ‘protected’ and proposing or adopting measures that shift the responsibility for the protection of refugees to third countries.”The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warns that up to a half-million Afghans could flee their home country by the end of the year. The International Rescue Committee estimates 2.6 million Afghan refugees already are being hosted primarily by Iran and Pakistan.Thousands of others were evacuated before the U.S.-imposed August 31 deadline to  withdraw in a massive airlift conducted by military forces from Western nations.  

EU Chief Says 70 Percent of Bloc’s Adult Population Now Vaccinated

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said Tuesday 70% of all adults in the European Union are now fully vaccinated — more than 250 million people.In a video message from EU headquarters in Brussels, Von der Leyen called the milestone a “great achievement, which really shows what we can do when we work together.”But she also cautioned the pandemic is not over and many more Europeans need to get vaccinated a soon as possible to prevent new infections and the possible emergence of new variants.On Monday, World Health Organization European Regional Director Hans Kluge warned about the slowing vaccination rate on the continent over the past six weeks. He said those stagnating numbers have been caused by a lack of access to vaccine in some lower income nations and a lack of vaccine acceptance in others. He said only 6% of people in lower- and lower-middle-income European countries have completed a full vaccination series. And while nearly 75% of European health care workers have completed a full COVID-19 vaccine series, some countries have only managed to vaccinate 10% of their health professionals.In her comments, Von der Leyen also said the EU must help vaccinate the rest of the world by continuing to support the WHO’s managed global vaccine access initiative, COVAX, which gets vaccine to low- and middle-income nations. She said the pandemic will only end if it is defeated in every corner of the globe. 

Milan Mayor Says Cladding Melted in Tower Block Blaze, as in London’s Grenfell Tower

The mayor of Italy’s financial capital Milan demanded answers on Monday over why a fire was able to rip through an apartment block and melt its cladding, comparing it to the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 71 people four years ago. Firefighters said everyone managed to escape the 18 story building in the south of Milan, which was gutted by the blaze that broke out on Sunday afternoon. Among the residents in the high rise building was rapper Mahmood, winner of the 2019 San Remo music festival with his international hit “Soldi.” Witnesses have said the fire, which started on the 15th floor, quickly surged through the outside cladding of the building. Video of the blaze showed panels melting off the building in liquefied clumps. “The tower was built just over 10 years ago and it is unacceptable that such a modern building should have proved totally vulnerable,” mayor Beppe Sala wrote on Facebook. “What was clear from the start was that the building’s outer shell went up in flames far too quickly, in a manner reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower fire in London a few years ago.” The deaths in Britain’s Grenfell Tower fire were blamed on exterior cladding panels made of flammable material. Owners of flats in similar buildings across Britain have since been forced to remove such panels at a cost estimated to run into billions of dollars, forcing many residents into economic hardship.  

EU Says Afghanistan Shows Need for Rapid-Reaction Force

EU governments must push ahead with a European rapid reaction force to be better prepared for future crises such as in Afghanistan, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.In an interview published on Monday, Borrell told Italian paper Il Corriere della Sera the short-notice deployment of U.S. troops to Afghanistan as security deteriorated showed the EU needed to accelerate efforts to build a common defense policy.”We need to draw lessons from this experience … as Europeans we have not been able to send 6,000 soldiers around the Kabul airport to secure the area. The US has been, we haven’t,” he said.Borrell said the 27-member EU should have an “initial entry force” of 5,000 soldiers. “We need to be able to act quickly.”In May, 14 EU countries including Germany and France proposed such a force, possibly with ships and aircraft, to help democratic foreign governments needing urgent help.First discussed in 1999 in connection with the Kosovo war, a joint system of battlegroups of 1,500 personnel each was set up in 2007 to respond to crises, but they have not been used because EU governments disagreed on how and when to deploy them.Borrell said it was time to be flexible, citing agreements made quickly to cope with the financial crisis as an example of how the EU could overcome restrictions in the deployment of military operations laid down in its constitutional treaties.”We can work in many different ways,” he said.Britain, long a reluctant EU member, was instrumental in the creation of the battlegroups in the 2000s but did not approve deployment as domestic opposition grew to anything that might resemble the creation of an EU army. With Britain’s departure from the bloc, the EU executive hopes the idea can be revived.But obstacles remain, including the lack of a common defense culture among the various EU members and differences over which countries should be given priority for deployment.

Actor Ed Asner, TV’s blustery Lou Grant, dies at 91

Ed Asner, the burly and prolific character actor who became a star in middle age as the gruff but lovable newsman Lou Grant, first in the hit comedy “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and later in the drama “Lou Grant,” died Sunday. He was 91.  Asner’s representative confirmed the actor’s death in an email to The Associated Press. Asner’s official Twitter account included a note from his children: “We are sorry to say that our beloved patriarch passed away this morning peacefully. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. With a kiss on your head- Goodnight dad. We love you.”Built like the football lineman he once was, the balding Asner was a journeyman actor in films and TV when he was hired in 1970 to play Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” For seven seasons he was the rumpled boss to Moore’s ebullient Mary Richards (He called her “Mary,” she called him “Mr. Grant”) at the fictional Minneapolis TV newsroom where both worked. Later, he would play the role for five years on “Lou Grant.”The part brought Asner three best supporting actor Emmys on “Mary Tyler Moore” and two best actor awards on “Lou Grant.” He also won Emmys for his roles in the miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” (1975-1976) and “Roots” (1976-1977).He had more than 300 acting credits and remained active throughout his 70s and 80s in a variety of film and TV roles. In 2003, he played Santa Claus in Will Ferrell’s hit film “Elf.” He was John Goodman’s father in the short-lived 2004 CBS comedy “Center of the Universe” and the voice of the elderly hero in the hit 2009 Pixar release, “Up.” More recently, he was in such TV series as “Forgive Me” and “Dead to Me.”Nonetheless, Asner told The Associated Press in 2009 that interesting roles were hard to come by.”I never get enough work,” he said. “It’s the history of my career. There just isn’t anything to turn down, let me put it that way.””I’d say most people are probably in that same boat, old people, and it’s a shame,” he said.As Screen Actors Guild president, the liberal Asner was caught up in a political controversy in 1982 when he spoke out against U.S. involvement with repressive governments in Latin America. “Lou Grant” was canceled during the furor that followed and he did not run for a third SAG term in 1985.Asner discussed his politicization in a 2002 interview, noting he had begun his career during the McCarthy era and for years had been afraid to speak out for fear of being blacklisted.Then he saw a nun’s film depicting the cruelties inflicted by El Salvador’s government on that country’s citizens.”I stepped out to complain about our country’s constant arming and fortifying of the military in El Salvador, who were oppressing their people,” he said.Former SAG President Charlton Heston and others accused him of making un-American statements and of misusing his position as head of their actors union.”We even had bomb threats at the time. I had armed guards,” Asner recalled.The actor blamed the controversy for ending the five-year run of “Lou Grant,” although CBS insisted declining ratings were the reason the show was canceled.Asner’s character had caught on from the first episode of “Mary Tyler Moore,” when he told Mary in their initial meeting, “You’ve got spunk. … I hate spunk!” The inspired cast included Ted Knight as Ted Baxter, the dimwitted news anchor, Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter, the sarcastic news writer, and Betty White as the manipulative, sex-obsessed home show hostess Sue Ann Nivens. Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, playing Mary’s neighbors, both saw their characters spun off into their own shows.”Mary Tyler Moore” was still a hit when the star decided to pursue other interests, and so it was brought to an end in the seventh season with a hilarious finale in which all of the principals were fired except for the bumbling Baxter.Asner went immediately into “Lou Grant,” his character moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to become city editor of the Tribune, a crusading newspaper under the firm hand of Publisher Margaret Pynchon, memorably played by Nancy Marchand.Although the show had its light moments, its scripts touched on a variety of darker social issues that most series wouldn’t touch at the time, including alcoholism and homelessness. Asner remained politically active for the rest of his life and in 2017 published the book “The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs.”Asner, born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1929, almost became a newsman in real life. He studied journalism at the University of Chicago until a professor told him there was little money to be made in the profession.He quickly switched to drama, debuting as the martyred Thomas Becket in a campus production of T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral.”He eventually dropped out of school, going to work as a taxi driver and other jobs before being drafted in 1951. He served with the Army Signal Corps in France.Returning to Chicago after military service, he appeared at the Playwrights Theatre Club and Second City, the famed satire troupe that launched the careers of dozens of top comedians.Later, in New York, he joined the long-running “The Threepenny Opera” and appeared opposite Jack Lemmon in “Face of a Hero.”Arriving in Hollywood in 1961 for an episode of television’s “Naked City,” Asner decided to stay and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including the film “El Dorado,” opposite John Wayne, and the Elvis Presley vehicles “Kid Galahad” and “Change of Habit.” He was a regular in the 1960s political drama series “Slattery’s People.”He was married twice, to Nancy Lou Sykes and Cindy Gilmore, and had four children, Matthew, Liza, Kate and Charles.

France’s Macron Visits Iraq’s Mosul  Destroyed by IS War 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday visited Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, which suffered widespread destruction during the war to defeat the Islamic State group in 2017. He vowed to fight alongside regional governments against terrorism. Macron said IS carried out deadly attacks throughout the world from its self-declared caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. He said IS did not differentiate between people’s religion and nationality when it came to killing, noting that the extremists killed many Muslims. “We will do whatever we can, shoulder to shoulder, with the governments of the region and with the Iraqi government to fight against this terrorism,” Macron said in English following a visit to an iconic mosque that was destroyed by the extremists. “We will be present alongside with sovereign governments to restore peace.” Macron said France will help in rebuilding mutual respect as well as monuments, churches, schools and mosques and most importantly “economic opportunity.” Despite the defeat of IS on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the group’s sleeper cells still carry out deadly attacks in both countries and an affiliate of the group claimed Thursday’s attacks at Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan that killed scores. Macron began his visit to Mosul by touring the Our Lady of the Hour Church, a Catholic church that was badly damaged during the rule of IS that lasted from 2014 until the extremists’ defeat three years later. Iraqi children dressed in white and waving Iraqi and French flags sang upon Macron’s arrival. FILE – Pope Francis arrives to pray for the victims of war at Hosh al-Bieaa Church Square in Mosul, Iraq.It was the same church where Pope Francis led a special prayer during a visit to Iraq in March. During the trip, the pontiff urged Iraq’s Christians to forgive the injustices against them by Muslim extremists and to rebuild as he visited the wrecked shells of churches. Macron moved around the church — whose walls are still riddled with bullets — amid tight security as a priest accompanying him gave him details about the church built in the 19th century. The French president then went up to the roof overlooking parts of Mosul accompanied by Iraqi officials. “We hope that France will open a consulate in Mosul,” Iraqi priest Raed Adel told Macron inside the church. He also called on the president to help in the reconstruction of Mosul’s airport. Macron made a list of promises during his meeting with Christian leaders at Our Lady of the Hour church, including opening a consulate. “I’m struck by what’s at stake here so I want to also tell you that we are going to be making the decision to bring back a consulate and schools,” Macron said. 
Macron left the church in the early afternoon and headed to Mosul’s landmark al-Nuri mosque, which was blown up in the battle with IS militants in 2017 and is being rebuilt. French President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) tours the Al-Nuri Mosque in Iraq’s second city of Mosul, in the northern Nineveh province, on August 29, 2021.The mosque, also known as The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, and its iconic leaning minaret were built in the 12th century. It was from the mosque’s pulpit that IS’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the caliphate’s establishment in 2014. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, became IS’s bureaucratic and financial backbone. It took a ferocious nine-month battle to finally free the city in July 2017. Between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were killed, according to an Associated Press investigation at the time, and the war left widespread destruction. Many Iraqis have had to rebuild on their own amid a years-long financial crisis. Since the early years of Christianity, northern Iraq has been home to large Christian communities. But over the past decades, tens of thousands left Iraq and settled elsewhere amid the country’s wars and instability that culminated with the persecution of Christians by extremists over the past decade. The traditionally Christian towns dotting the Nineveh Plains of the north emptied out in 2014 as Christians — as well as many Muslims — fled the Islamic State group’s onslaught. Only a few have returned to their homes since the defeat of IS in Iraq was declared four years ago, and the rest remain scattered elsewhere in Iraq or abroad. Macron arrived in Baghdad early Saturday where he took part in a conference attended by officials from around the Middle East aimed at easing Mideast tensions and underscored the Arab country’s new role as mediator. Macron hailed the Baghdad conference as a major boost for Iraq and its leadership. The country had been largely shunned by Arab leaders for the past few decades because of security concerns amid back-to-back wars and internal unrest, its airport frequently attacked with rockets by insurgents. Macron vowed to maintain troops in Iraq “regardless of the Americans’ choices” and “for as long as the Iraqi government is asking for our support.” France currently contributes to the international coalition forces in Iraq with 800 soldiers. On Saturday night, Macron visited a Shi’ite holy shrine in Baghdad before flying to the northern city of Irbil, where he met Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, the 28-year-old activist who was forced into sexual slavery by IS fighters in Iraq. A member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, Murad was among thousands of women and girls who were captured and forced into sexual slavery by IS in 2014. Her mother and six brothers were killed by IS fighters in Iraq. She became an activist on behalf of women and girls after escaping and finding refuge in Germany and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. 

Arc De Triomphe to be Wrapped for Posthumous Work by Christo

The Arc de Triomphe has seen parades, protests and tourists galore, but never before has the war monument in Paris been wrapped in silver and blue recyclable polypropylene fabric. That’s about to happen next month in a posthumous art installation designed by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.”Christo has wrapped museums, parliaments as in Germany, but a monument like this? Not really. This is the first time. This is the first monument of this importance and scale that he has done,” Vladimir Yavachev, the late collaborating couple’s nephew, told The Associated Press.Preparations have already started on the Napoleon-era arch, where workers are covering statues to protect them from the wrapping.The idea for L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was formed in 1961, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude lived in Paris. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, and in spite of Christo’s death in May 2020, the project carried on.”He wanted to complete this project. He made us promise him that we will do it,” Yavachev told The Associated Press.It was to be realized last fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the installation.The $16.4 million project is being self-financed through the sale of Christo’s preparatory studies, drawings, scale models and other pieces of work, Yavachev said.Visitors to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during the installation, scheduled for Sept. 18-Oct. 3, will be able to touch the fabric, and those climbing to the top will step on it when they reach the roof terrace, as intended by the artists.Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, born in Morocco on the exact same day as him, in Paris in 1958.The artists were known for elaborate, temporary creations that involved blanketing familiar public places with fabric, such as Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge, and creating giant site-specific installations, such as a series of 7,503 gates in New York City’s Central Park and the 39-kilometer Running Fence in California.Yavachev plans on completing another one of his uncle and aunt’s unfinished projects: a 150-meter-tall pyramid-like mastaba in Abu Dhabi.”We have the blueprints, we just have to do it,” he said. 

Acclaim for ‘Afterparties’ Illuminates Cambodian American Experience

The late Cambodian American writer Anthony Veasna So once reportedly described his work as “post-khmer genocide queer stoner fiction,” a narrowly defined niche blown wide open by widespread critical acclaim for his collection of short stories, Afterparties.So’s book is hailed as an exciting and highly original work that captures what it is like to grow up in contemporary American society as a child of Cambodian refugees. Enthusiasm for So’s work bridges seemingly dissimilar universes – literary critics who see its universal appeal and the Cambodian American community that sees family.Uniting the two are So’s vivid descriptions – full of humor and compassion – of families grappling with the traumas of surviving the murderous Khmer Rouge while navigating the cultural dislocation and socio-economic challenges of refugee resettlement.Until now, most depictions of Cambodians in English-language writing and film have been memoirs, nonfiction books and a few well-known movies that focus on an older generation’s stories of surviving the Khmer Rouge killing fields — the “purification” of Cambodia that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million people in a quest by Pol Pot to create an agrarian Marxist utopia in the 1970s.As The New Yorker magazine observed, “Classics of immigrant storytelling can feel sparse and solemn. The stories in So’s Afterparties fill the silence, spilling over with transgressive humor and exuberant language.”The Man Behind Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge ‘Died Easier Than the People He Killed’Cambodians found little comfort in the death of Nuon Chea, believed to be the mastermind behind the Khmer Rouge regime that killed 1.7 million of its countrymen between 1975-1979 “He writes the voices of our Cambodian elders in a way that just feels so accurate,” Monica Sok, a poet who was a friend of So’s, told a recent panel discussion at Book Passage, a Bay Area bookstore. Sok said that as she read So’s work, “I was always thinking like: ‘Yeah, I do know an auntie like that, I know an auntie who thinks she knows how I should live my life.”‘Immense promise’The well-known American literary house Ecco launched Afterparties in early August, printing 100,000 copies after it reportedly signed a $300,000 deal for two books with So, who died in December 2020 of an accidental drug overdose at his home in San Francisco. Another book based on segments from an unfinished novel is expected in 2023.The New Yorker, which first published some of his early stories, described So’s death at 28 as “cutting short a literary career of extraordinary achievement and immense promise.”The headline of a glowing Washington Post review called Afterparties “a bittersweet testament to the late author’s talents.”Alexander Torres, the writer who was So’s partner for seven years, told VOA Khmer “the humor, the lightheartedness, the jokes, but also the really beautiful descriptions” are what made So’s writing unique with a style that “combines humor with high art and with low art.”Younger perspectiveSo’s writing captures the second generation’s perspective on the effects of lingering trauma and other issues at the heart of the Cambodian American community, while touching on more universal contemporary themes such as the complexities of race, youth and sexuality.As any Cambodian born to Khmer Rouge survivors can attest, the horror stories and traumas inflicted by the murderous 1970s regime are part of growing up.So’s sharp observations about his parents’ coping mechanisms and the effects of their traumas on their children offer an unflinching look at the multigenerational impact of war and violence. Yet, he never overlooks the humor and absurdity this can create for an Americanized second generation. In one incident he describes a father shouting at a teen drinking iced water: “There were no ice cubes in the genocide!”Afterparties contains nine short stories, including Somaly Serey, Serey Somaly, about the Buddhist belief in reincarnation set in an Alzheimer’s and dementia unit. Generational Differences is about a 1989 shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, a small California city that is home to one of the largest Cambodian communities in the U.S. Most of the victims were children of Southeast Asian descent. Five died. So’s mother, who worked at the school, witnessed the violence.Cambodian Refugees ‘Accomplished So Much’New photography book bears witness to resilience of Cambodians who created a close-knit community in a poor Chicago neighborhood after fleeing war, genocide So’s book built on a reputation from work published in various outlets, including a 2018 story in n+1 magazine called Superking Son Scores Again, about a legendary badminton player turned grocery store owner who tries to relive his glory days.Mark Krotov, the magazine’s co-editor and publisher, told VOA Khmer that So’s work would likely affect many young writers. “There is so much wisdom in it, there is so much adventure … so much risk-taking, so much beauty, so much intelligence, so much provocation. And all those things in combination suggest to me that this is the book that’s going to be remembered,” Krotov said in a recent phone interview.N+1 magazine recently established an award called “Anthony Veasna So’s Fiction Prize” in his honor. The first recipient is Trevor Shikaze, a writer for n+1 from Canada.‘Centering’ Cambodian AmericansSo’s parents fled northwestern Cambodia’s Battambang province and settled as refugees in Stockton, a river city in California’s Central Valley. His father ran an auto repair shop and his mother worked as a civil servant. So was born in Stockton in 1992.Cambodian American intellectuals said So’s fiction masterfully conveyed their experiences, family life and sense of community.“Reading through Afterparties, it was so resonant, it was so refreshing, to see the Cambodian diaspora, which is not represented in literature – apart from the survival literature,” said So’s friend Sok.“Anthony is really centering Cambodian people in America and the second generation as well, those who are born in this country and inheriting their parents’ traumas, but also trying to find their own way in life,” she added.Sokunthary Svay, a Cambodian American writer and librettist from New York City, told VOA Khmer, “I think what makes his writing particularly important for our diaspora is that he would speak about experiences that a lot of us knew growing up here in the States.”So was from a large family, and all the children were high-achieving students. He graduated from Stanford University, where he enrolled for computer science and graduated with a degree in English, a switch that initially dismayed his family. He earned his MFA in fiction at Syracuse University.’Cambodian Space Project’ Brings Psychedelic Rock Back to US

        The Cambodian Space Project, long on the forefront of a local rock'n'roll revival, is a band making good with their pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodia sound.The Cambodian-Australian group, kicked off a mini-U.S. tour on Tuesday with a performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. Channthy Kak, 38, also known as Srey Thy, said she was honored to have been invited to perform at the Washington venue, where the band played their original brand of psychedelic rock, before heading to New York City and…

According to his sister, Samantha Lamb, So loved television shows and movies and he discovered his talent while trying to write a script for a television show about a Cambodian American family based on his own life.Lamb reacted to So’s stories with recognition. “OK yes, yes, that is the story about my grandma’s sister, that’s the story about my aunt,” Lamb told VOA Khmer. “This person represents this person in my family.”Processing genocideLamb said Khmer Rouge-era experiences are a recurrent theme in So’s work, as “it is a big part of who we are and growing up my parents talked about it all the time.”In Duplex, a story published in The New Yorker, So wrote, “I had grown up hearing the stories of the genocide, worked to help build our new American identities, and mourned, alongside everyone else in my family, the gaps in our history that could never be recovered.”Lamb said her brother found a way to process this family history and turn it into a new, contemporary experience.His work “tells the stories of the Cambodian genocide, but from a young person’s perspective,” Lamb said. “There hasn’t really been any book or movie or TV show about Cambodians in the Western eyes, you know in the American eyes, that has been about just like who we are as Cambodian Americans now. So, I think that’s what makes it more relatable to people.”According to Lamb, the family continues to struggle with So’s death, although they are immensely proud to see his writing being so well received. His father sleeps in So’s bed to console himself, while his mother is going to a therapist and their grandmother is claiming So may soon be reincarnated.“I am pregnant right now,’’ Lamb said, ‘’and it is a boy. … And especially my grandma has been like ‘Oh! Anthony is coming back. He is being reincarnated.’”  

France, Britain to Call for Kabul ‘Safe Zone,’ Macron Says 

France and Britain on Monday will urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a “safe zone” in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said. “This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency,” Macron said in comments published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche. Above all, such a safe zone would allow the international community “to maintain pressure on the Taliban,” who are now in power in Afghanistan, the French leader added. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — France, Britain, the U.S., Russia and China — will meet on Monday to discuss the Afghanistan situation.  Paris and London will take the opportunity to present a draft resolution that “aims to define, under U.N. control, a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron said. His comments came as international efforts to airlift foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghanis out of the country neared an end.  France ended its evacuation efforts on Friday, and the United Kingdom followed suit on Saturday.  U.S. troops have been scrambling in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a massive evacuation operation from the Kabul airport by an August 31 deadline. Macron announced on Saturday that discussions had been “started with the Taliban” to “protect and repatriate” Afghan nationals at risk beyond August 31. Speaking to reporters in Iraq, where he was attending a meeting of key regional leaders, Macron added that with help from Qatar, which maintains good relations with the Taliban, there was a possibility of further airlift operations. He added that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since August 17. In the article published by the French Sunday newspaper, Macron said he envisaged targeted evacuations in future, “which would not be carried out at the military airport in Kabul” but perhaps via civil airports in the Afghan capital or from neighboring countries. 

Macron to Attend Baghdad Summit Amid Fears Over IS

French President Emmanuel Macron is among the leaders set to attend a regional summit Saturday in Iraq, with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and a deadly jihadist attack in Kabul overshadowing the meeting.Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II also are to attend the Baghdad summit, while the foreign ministers of arch-foes Iran and Saudi Arabia will also be present.Organizers have been tight-lipped on the agenda, but the meeting comes as Iraq, long a casualty of jihadist militancy, tries to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran.Iraq seeks to play a “unifying role” to tackle crises shaking the region, sources close to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi have said.Oil-rich Iraq has been caught for years in a delicate balancing act between its two main allies, Iran and the United States.Iran exerts major clout in Iraq through allied armed groups within the Hashed al-Shaabi, a powerful state-sponsored paramilitary network.Baghdad has been brokering talks since April between U.S. ally Riyadh and Tehran on mending ties severed in 2016.Macron aims to highlight France’s role in the region and its determination to press the fight against terrorism, his office said.The French president considers Iraq “essential” to stability in the troubled Middle East, it added.’More urgent than ever’An Islamic State (IS) group affiliate claimed Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul that killed scores of people, including 13 U.S. service members.The attack has revived global concerns that the extremist organization, which seized swathes of Syria and Iraq before being routed from both countries, is emerging anew, analysts said.According to Colin Clarke, senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, IS “still has access to tens of millions of dollars and will likely continue to rebuild its network throughout Iraq and Syria.”Its “primary goal at the moment is to have its affiliates maintain momentum until it can sufficiently rebuild its core in the Levant,” he said.”(IS) affiliates in sub-Saharan Africa and now Afghanistan will have the opportunity to make strides in the coming year.”In July, President Joe Biden said U.S. combat operations in Iraq would end this year, but that U.S. soldiers would continue to train, advise and support the country’s military in the fight against IS.Washington currently has 2,500 troops deployed to Iraq.Rasha Al Aqeedi, senior analyst at Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, said coalition forces believed Iraq’s security personnel could prevent another IS advance.”Maybe they’re not ideal, but they’re good enough for America to leave the country believing that Iraq is not going to live through another 2014,” she said. 

Soccer Legend Cristiano Ronaldo to Return to Manchester United

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is heading back to England to play for the team where he became a legend.Manchester United said Friday that it had reached an agreement to bring the 36-year-old Portuguese forward back to Old Trafford, where the storied club plays.”Manchester United is delighted to confirm that the club has reached agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and medical,” a statement from the team read.”Cristiano, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, has so far won over 30 major trophies during his career, including five Champions League titles, four FIFA Club World Cups, seven league titles in England, Spain and Italy, and the European Championship for his native Portugal.”In his first spell for Manchester United, he scored 118 goals in 292 games. Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester,” the statement concluded.Ronaldo said on Thursday that he no longer wanted to play for Juventus of the Italian league.While details of the move were not officially made public, The Associated Press said the transfer fee would be $29.5 million. Ronaldo had a year left on his contract with Juventus. His contract with United is for two years.Ronaldo played previously for Manchester United from 2003 to 2009 when he left to play for Spanish team Real Madrid before moving on to Juventus.Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who played alongside Ronaldo at the club, said, “He is the greatest player of all time, if you ask me.”“Such a tremendous human being as well. … Everyone who’s played with him, I think, has a soft spot for him,” Solskjaer said.United no doubt hopes Ronaldo can help the team win the Premier League championship, something it hasn’t done since 2013.Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

First Group of Afghan Evacuees Arrives in Albania

​A first group of 121 evacuees from Afghanistan arrived early Friday in Albania, after the country agreed to temporarily house at-risk Afghan nationals at the request of the United States.More are expected to go to the Western Balkan country, but the timing is uncertain because of the chaos and evolving situation at the Kabul airport, as the United States and other countries race to get Americans and others out of the country ahead of an Tuesday deadline for complete withdrawal, amid the threat of more terror attacks.Officials in Albania said the first group of 121 was made up of civil society activists and others, including children and 11 babies. The flight made one stop in Tbilisi, Georgia, then departed for Albania, arriving at the country’s main airport in Tirana at 3 a.m. local time.Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama offers a gift to a boy during his visit to a resort accommodating Afghan refugees in Golem, west of Tirana, Aug. 27, 2021.They were being sheltered temporarily in three hotels near the coastal town of Durrës, about 38 kilometers (23.5 miles) from Tirana.“We have prepared for everything, including processing documentation and registration, health checks, sanitary packages, food, transportation and of course safety,” said Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka, who welcomed the group at the airport.U.S. Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim was also present, thanking Albania for the hospitality.Albania was one of the first countries to agree to take in at-risk Afghans, initially saying that it would house hundreds of them, later putting that figure at up to 4,000. All this past week, the flights from Kabul kept being scheduled and canceled because of the chaos at the airport.“I feel relieved that finally the first flight was able to make it, bringing the first Afghan contingent, including, men, women and children. It is truly an emotional moment, because each man, woman, child that you see here is a life saved from the horror of war,” Xhaçka said.A moral imperativeIn addition to Albania, fellow NATO member North Macedonia and Kosovo have agreed to take in at-risk Afghans.Albania and Kosovo, noting their own people’s plights, see helping with the Afghan evacuees as a moral imperative. Thirty years ago, thousands of Albanians fled to Western Europe after the fall of communism to build a better life.“It’s about who we are. It’s about also being a member of NATO and feeling the responsibility to act as part of NATO,” Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said in an interview with CNN, urging other wealthier fellow NATO members to do more.During the Balkan conflict of the 1990s, 700,000 people from Kosovo were displaced and became refugees. President Vjosa Osmani, confirming the U.S. request, recalled that experience in a tweet early last week.Since mid-July, ?? expressed its readiness to do its part to host ??citizens, upon request by An Afghan family gathers at a resort that is accommodating Afghan refugees in Golem, Albania, Aug. 27, 2021.While the length of the Afghan evacuees’ stay in these countries remains to be seen, Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a global affairs think tank, told VOA the priority is to move them out of Afghanistan.”Right now, I think the key is to get them to a place where they are safe to begin the paperwork, the background checks, other necessary steps to process to them for refugee status and for ultimate resettlement,” he said, adding that the Biden administration “is very appreciative for any country that is willing to help out.” Ilirian Agolli contributed to this report.