Overnight Defense & National Security — Afghanistan concerns center stage with G-20

Overnight Defense & National Security — Afghanistan concerns center stage with G-20
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It's Tuesday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE met virtually with Group of 20 (G-20) leaders, with the group discussing topics that focused on Afghanistan rescue and humanitarian efforts.

We’ll have more on what was discussed specifically, the veteran diplomat that will lead Afghan relocation efforts and what’s at the top of the agenda in the joint meeting of U.S., Israel and UAE.

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Write to me with tips: emitchell@thehill.com.

Let’s get to it.

Biden talks counterterrorism, Afghanistan rescue efforts

President Biden delivers remarks regarding the debt ceiling and infrastructure package being debated on Capitol Hill on Monday, October 4, 2021.

President Biden discussed counterterrorism and rescue efforts in Afghanistan in a virtual meeting with Group of 20 (G-20) leaders on Tuesday.

“The Leaders discussed the critical need to maintain a laser-focus on our enduring counterterrorism efforts, including against threats from ISIS-K, and ensuring safe passage for those foreign nationals and Afghan partners with documentation seeking to depart Afghanistan,” the White House said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan.

Who was on the call?: The G-20 is made up of the world’s 20 major economies, including the U.S., China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and the European Union. Leaders of G-20 guest countries and international financial institutions also joined the call.

The specific topics:The leaders on the call discussed their commitment to humanitarian assistance for Afghans through independent international organizations and to promoting human rights for Afghans, including women, girls and minorities in the country.

“The United States remains committed to working closely with the international community and using diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic means to address the situation in Afghanistan and support the Afghan people,” the White House said. 

Read the full story here.

BIDEN TAPS VETERAN DIPLOMAT TO LEAD AFGHAN RELOCATION

The State Department on Tuesday announced that veteran senior State Department official Elizabeth Jones will oversee Afghan relocation efforts.

Jones, who served as deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Obama administration, will be the administration’s point person on helping to facilitate the relocation of tens of thousands of Afghans who fled the country amid the Taliban’s takeover in August. 

What is the role?: Jones will assume oversight of the entire Afghanistan relocation effort, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. This includes the departure of individuals looking to leave Afghanistan — including American citizens and Afghan allies who served with the U.S. over the past 20 years — and relocation and resettlement efforts in the U.S. 

More on her background: Jones is a 35-year veteran of the State Department and achieved the rank of career ambassador and is coming out of retirement to serve. She served as Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, among other top diplomatic positions. 

The previous point person: She’ll be taking over as the State Department’s point person on relocation efforts from John Bass, who flew to Kabul days after the Taliban took over the city to help run logistics and consular efforts for evacuating Afghans. 

Bass was nominated in July by President Biden to serve as Under Secretary of State for Management, the third-highest ranking official in the State Department.

Read more on that here.

Iran and China at top of agenda in US-Israel-UAE joint meeting 

Secretary of State <span class=Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Syria's challenge to Tony Blinken's conscience MORE holds up documents as he testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan" width="645" height="363" data-delta="3" />

 

Iran’s nuclear ambitions and China’s global aspirations will be at the top of the agenda for a trilateral meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from Israel and the United Arab Emirates set to take place on Wednesday.

A series of meetings: The secretary is hosting Israeli and Emirati officials in Washington to mark the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreement orchestrated by the Trump administration that established ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.  

Blinken will meet separately with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Then the top diplomats will hold a trilateral meeting, during which they will announce a joint working group on religious coexistence, and water and energy issues.

Building on ties: Since announcing the accord to normalize relations in August 2020, Israel and the U.A.E. have established embassies in their respective countries and exchanged ambassadors, as well as signed more than a dozen bilateral agreements.  

The meeting in Washington is an effort to build on the ties between the three parties. All three face pressing issues related to regional security, such as Iran, and global stability, with the U.S. focused on China’s efforts to gain a foothold in the Middle East. 

Concerns over China: Chinese companies have worked on and continue to bid on Israeli infrastructure projects.

Last month, a Chinese state-owned firm inaugurated its management of a port in the Israeli city of Haifa, in a project that had earlier garnered pushback from the U.S., which docks ships and runs joint naval exercises with Israel out of the sea-side city.  

U.S. intelligence officials have also reportedly raised concerns that relations between the U.A.E. and China risk the security of the F-35 program, with Abu Dhabi set to take delivery of the advanced fighter jets as part of the original negotiations of the Abraham Accords. 

Read the full story here.

 

Navy recovers remains of 5 sailors killed in August helo crash 

The Navy has recovered the remains of five sailors and the wreckage of their MH-60S Seahawk helicopter that crashed Aug. 31 off the deck of an aircraft carrier while off the southern California coast.

The Naval Sea Systems Command’s salvage and dive team recovered the aircraft and remains on Oct. 8 from a depth of approximately 5,300 feet, according to a service statement released Tuesday.

The team arrived Oct. 10 at Naval Air Station North Island, where the remains recovered from the crash were transferred to Dover Air Force Base for identification.

The accident: The Seahawk crashed off the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier after it touched down and “experienced side-to-side vibrations,” causing the main rotor to strike the flight deck. The aircraft, which had been conducting routine operations approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at the time, then fell over the side of the ship, according to a “mishap summary” from the Naval Safety Center. 

Five sailors aboard the helicopter were killed in the incident, with five more aboard the carrier injured. One sailor who was on the helicopter was rescued. 

Read the full story here.

 

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That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. See you next week.

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