Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia display unity, closeness on Kingdom’s National Day 

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Mohammad Khan, Afghanistan's first deputy chief executive, slices the celebration cake with Ambassador Al-Khalidi.  (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi speaks with the wife of the US ambassador to Kabul. (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi escorts arriving former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojadidi across the hotel hallway. (AN photo)
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Saudi Ambassador Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi delivers his speech. (AN photo)
Updated 24 September 2018

Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia display unity, closeness on Kingdom’s National Day 

  • Unlike past celebrations, Sunday’s event was more elaborate one, from previous  gatherings

KABUL: Standing on the path way that leads to the spacious yard of Serena hotel in Kabul, Saudi’s new ambassador to Afghanistan Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Khalidi, welcomed local and foreign guests as they thronged to attend the kingdom’s 88th National Day.

But with his watchful eyes, he and his two embassy staff left the pathway and rushed past the doorway to embrace some Afghan former and current politicians as well as leaders whenever they arrived on Sunday evening.

As guests arrived, Arabic national music videos showed Arab men in traditional attire, brandishing swords on a big TV screen. 

Later, a video aired delivery of kingdom’s aid to various Islamic countries, including Yemen.

Apart from a number of foreign diplomats, including the US ambassador, other guests were a former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojadidi and members of factions that Saudi provided military and financial assistance during the war against the ex-Soviet Union.

There were few women and a former Taliban official who currently serves as an official in President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

Unlike past celebrations, Sunday’s event was more elaborate one, from previous  gatherings.

The national anthem of the two nations were played.

A giant billboard displaying the images of King Abdulaziz, founder of the kingdom, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, on one side and those of Ghani and his chief executive, Dr. Abdullah at its other end.

Both Ambassador Al-Khalidi and the top Afghan official attending the event, Mohammad Khan who serves as first deputy chief executive, spoke about the importance of historical bond between Kabul and Riyadh.

“On this occasion, I would like to mention the distinguished historical relations between the two countries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, whose roots extend to the beginning of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Khalidi told the guests.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paying great attention towards its bilateral relations with the brother country Afghanistan at various levels in order to achieve peace & security and well-being of its people and actively participates in the international conferences relevant to the Afghan Affairs,” 

Al-Khalidi has been in this posting since May and enjoys more respect in the government compared to his predecessors, according to two foreign ministry officials.

Khan thanked Saudi for its new aid projects in Afghanistan that includes building of a ring-road in Kabul, two main hospitals, four clinics, a center for the country’s clergies and cash for Afghan returning refugees.

“We in the regional and world affairs have equal and close view with Saudi,” he said suggesting Afghanistan wanted that the Islamic countries, particularly, the Gulf nations settle their problem through understanding and talks.

Ninth lawmaker quits Britain’s opposition Labour Party

Updated 22 February 2019

Ninth lawmaker quits Britain’s opposition Labour Party

  • Corbyn, a supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of the Israeli government, has previously been accused by some of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party. He denies the allegation

LONDON: British lawmaker Ian Austin resigned from the opposition Labour Party on Friday, the ninth person to do so this week, saying it was “broken” and had been taken over by the “hard left.”

Austin said he was appalled at the treatment of Jewish lawmakers who had taken a stand against anti-Semitism and that the “the party is tougher on the people complaining about anti-Semitism than it is on the anti-Semites.”

“The Labour Party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take, but I have to be honest and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour Party under (leader) Jeremy Corbyn,” he told the Express and Star newspaper.

“I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.”

Corbyn has promised to drive anti-Semitism out of the party.

Austin said he did not currently have any plans to join The Independent Group in parliament, launched by seven of his former Labour colleagues on Monday and since joined by an eighth as well as three former members of the governing Conservatives.

A Labour lawmaker since 2005 and a former government minister, Austin supports Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal and is not in favor of holding a second referendum, putting him at odds with the other Independent Group members.