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Putin Calls on Western Nations to Release Afghanistan’s Reserves

Asked at the Valdai Club Discussion, how Afghanistan can be helped to achieve political stability and economic development, President Putin emphasized that while the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Afghanistan’s neighbors will help the country economically, the Western nations who occupied the country for 20 years must take primary responsibility to stabilize the situation. “The first thing they must do,” Putin said, “is to release Afghan assets, and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.”

The exchange, with Tsinghua University strategist Zhou Bo, follows:

Zhou Bo: “Mr. President, it is really my great honor to ask you this question. I will ask you something about Afghanistan. Afghanistan lies in the heart of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, if Afghanistan has a problem, then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has a problem. Now the United States has withdrawn from Afghanistan. So how can the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is led by China and Russia, united with other countries, help Afghanistan to achieve political stability and economic development?”

Vladimir Putin:
“The situation in Afghanistan is one of the most urgent issues today. You know, we have just had a meeting in the appropriate format, in part, with representatives of the Taliban. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is also active in Afghanistan. This is a very serious issue for all of us because for both China and Russia it is extremely important to have a calm, developing Afghanistan that is not a source of terrorism, or any form of radicalism, next to our national borders, if not on our borders.

“We are now seeing what is happening inside Afghanistan. Unfortunately, different groups, including ISIS are still there. There are already victims among the Taliban movement, which, as a whole, is still trying to get rid of these radical elements and we know of such examples. This is very important for us, for both Russia and China.

“In order to normalize the situation properly and at the right pace, it is necessary, of course, to help Afghanistan restore its economy because drugs are another huge problem. It is a known fact that 90 percent of opiates come to the world market from Afghanistan. And if there is no money, what will they do? From what sources and how will they fund their social programs?

“Therefore, for all the importance of our participation in these processes – both China and Russia and other SCO countries – the main responsibility for what is happening there is still borne by the countries that fought there for 20 years. I believe the first thing they must do is to release Afghan assets and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.

“For our part, we can implement specific large projects and deal with domestic security issues. Our special services are in contact with their Afghan counterparts. For us, within the SCO, it is very important to get this work up and running because Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are right on the border with Afghanistan. We have a military facility in Tajikistan. It was based on the 201st division when it was still Soviet.

“Therefore, we will actively continue this work with China on a bilateral plane, develop dialogue with relevant structures and promote cooperation within the SCO as a whole. In the process, we will allocate the required resources and create all the conditions to let our citizens feel safe regardless of what is happening in Afghanistan.”


Linking Up Scandinavia and Europe to the Belt and Road via Pakistan

STOCKHOLM, April 29, 2021 (EIRNS)–The Zoom webinar meeting of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, together with the Embassy of Pakistan in Sweden, and the Embassy of China in Sweden, was an extraordinary success. More than 130 participants were present at the height of participation. The first part of the program was moderated by the Commercial Counsellor of Pakistan for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. The focus was on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the tremendous potential for European and Scandinavian business interests to invest in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) that are connected to the current industrialization phase of CPEC.

There were welcoming remarks by the Ambassadors of Pakistan to Sweden and Denmark, and by the Ambassador of China to Sweden. The Chinese-language website of the Foreign Ministry the next day highlighted the BRIX event, printing the greetings of Chinese Ambassador Gui Congyou at the event.

There were several leading governmental agencies from Pakistan, like the Board of Investment, as well as regional officials, who outlined the great potential for investments and business in all areas when the basic infrastructure, especially electric power, is built. There were also important presentations from Business Sweden, Innovation Norway, and the Trade Council of Denmark to welcome and provide support and help for Scandinavian businesses that are ready to invest in Pakistan. The significance of Pakistan’s cooperation with China on the BRI was highlighted, and many business interests from China also participated.

The second part of the webinar was focused on the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the work of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden continues to present truthful and accurate information on BRI, despite deliberate distortions by Western media and other institutions.

This section was moderated by Stephen Brawer, the Vice Chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, and the responsible leader of BRIX for webinars and seminars. His preliminary remarks summarized three of the most important points on the BRI as a global development policy, open to all nations, and the necessity of eliminating extreme poverty worldwide as has been achieved in China in 2020. He also noted the importance of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, as a principle for cooperation, in which the interests of the other are primary, as opposed to only serving your own interests, i.e., geopolitics.

There were four speakers in the afternoon session. Professor Michele Geraci of Italy pointed to the primacy of commercial relations behind the much discussed and dramatic geopolitical controversies. Mr. Henry Tillman of the UK reported from his own investigations the meteoric rise of the Chinese pharma industry in just one year, showing how China and India are now the main suppliers of vaccine to the world, as the USA and Europe have limited their deliveries to their domestic markets. In the UK the entire vaccine production has been kept 100 percent for the British people.

Dr. Maria Sultan of Pakistan situated the CPEC in the global landscape of container trade and digital transmissions, showing the tremendous growth in the Asia-Europe and Asia Pacific corridors with the Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gwadar in the crossroads. Hussein Askary of the BRIX highlighted the Health Silk Road as the only possible approach to counter the current and future pandemics, providing the necessary infrastructure needed for a modern health system.


Uzbekistan Delegation Meeting with Taliban Promotes Infrastructure and Aid

A delegation from Uzbekistan’s government, led by Investment and Foreign Trade Minister Sardor Umurzakov, met with the Afghan delegation led by Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Taliban’s provisional government in Termez (in the southern portion of Uzbekistan) on Oct. 16, for a one-day conference.

In a statement from Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusup Kabulzhanov told TASS on Oct. 16: “‘At the meetings, representatives of a number of ministries and agencies discussed trade and economic cooperation, border security, cooperation in the fields of energy, international haulage and transit.’

“The talks are reported to have focused on the implementation of infrastructure projects, which include the construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri transmission line and the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway,” TASS reported.

The Afghani English-language online daily 8AM also reported that “In the meeting, the two sides have appointed a joint technical team to provide instructions for the implementation of projects. After 10 days, the team is supposed to complete strategy and instructions on how to implement these projects and present them to the officials of both sides.”

Termez is becoming a hub for humanitarian aid. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said this week that three consignments of humanitarian aid would be airlifted to Termez in the near future before entering Afghanistan by truck.

Radio Free Europe reported that last month, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev told the UN General Assembly that his country has resumed the supply of oil and electricity to Afghanistan. “It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the range of its problems,” RFE quoted him as saying.

In related news, AFP reported that acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met in Ankara on Oct. 14 with Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu: “Cavusoglu called on governments to unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign accounts to ease the growing humanitarian crisis but said Turkey was not yet ready to recognize the group.”


Hungary To Become Regional Logistics Hub, as Rail Project Proceeds

At a stone-laying ceremony in Kiskunhalas for the Hungarian section of the modernization of Budapest-Belgrade railway on Oct. 15, the Hungary Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said: “Railways will clearly be in the focus of Hungary’s transport development efforts in the next 10-15 years, with the upgrade and capacity expansion of the Budapest-Belgrade line as one of the priority investments.” Palkovics attended the ceremony, as did Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Tomislav Momirovic, and Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Qi Dayu, and via video, Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Palkovics elaborated that with the renovation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, Hungary will offer the fastest transport route for Chinese goods between Central and Southeast Europe, extending from Budapest to Belgrade, into Skopje, North Macedonia, and extending to Athens. He also thanked the Chinese people for their help in supplying medical and other equipment to Hungary, as it was hit by COVID-19.

Xinhua reported today: “For his part, Ning said that the railway project will promote the connectivity between Hungary and Serbia and other European countries, help the two countries build a regional transport and logistics hub, give a strong boost to European infrastructure and economic growth along the route, and enhance the well-being of the European people.

“The project is also of great significance for the connection of the Belt and Road Initiative to European development strategies and the deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Europe, Ning added. ‘It could be said that the railway is beneficial to our three countries, to Central and Eastern European countries, and to the entire Europe,’ he said.”

Kiskunhalas, Hungary is about 20 miles north of the Serbian border, and is 122 miles from Belgrade. During July 2021, Hungary celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Hungarian Railways. A short clip of the ceremony was posted by “Built by China”


Sergei Glazyev: The Future Is Being Created Through Eurasian Development

Oct. 6 (EIRNS)—Interviewed by an editor of the Russian newspaper Zavtra on August 18, Russian economist Sergei Glazyev spoke optimistically of the entirely new world economic order taking shape around the growing economic integration between the countries of Eurasia, in contrast with the disintegrating Western speculative financial system, whose imposition of “pure usury” is creating “genocide” in countries like Ukraine. The October 2 publication in full of Glazyev’s interview on Spain’s El espía digital website, reflects the growing recognition in Western nations that the high-tech cooperative development model evolving in Eurasia offers some crucial lessons about what works.

Glazyev is no mere commentator, but a man who understands that “ideas rule the world.”  He is the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics for the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the executive body for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the common market established by Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, which is coordinating projects with the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative. He is also very familiar with that “titan of thought,” American statesman Lyndon LaRouche, and his “realistic school of economic thought,” as Glazyev describes him, having spoken many times with LaRouche and his wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche over the past two decades, both privately and publicly.

The EAEU has completed the first phase of forming a common market, and is now working on how to “saturate” that market with “new infrastructure, information, and cultural ties, and joint economic projects” in order to bring about “accelerated development,” Glazyev reported.

Unlike the previous world order, which “had an imperial character, in which the principal centers of development, the US and the USSR, dictated their will upon the other countries which fell in their area of influence … the new world economic order is not monocentric,” he emphasized. “In our new world economic order, there is mutual respect for the sovereignty of different countries, both large and small; cultural diversity is preserved; interference in internal affairs is not attempted; and cooperation is based not on the zero-sum principle within the framework of liberal globalization, but rather on the search for a combination of competitive advantages to achieve a synergistic effect, in order to raise the social well-being of all the countries which participate in integration processes….

“This is what unites our approach with the Chinese approach in the framework of building a complete new world economic order.”

Glazyev stresses the great importance of the Chinese model of development, which in the last 30 years achieved three times greater growth than the United States, by combining strategic planning by the State with markets and private entrepreneurship. Under this dirigist model, if a private corporation tries to destabilize or manipulate the market to gain super-benefits, the State can shut it down. This system has proven to be “extremely effective,” and many countries are introducing such measures, following China’s path, which is widely known through the Belt and Road Initiative, he argued.

This, he emphasizes, is how a new world economic order is emerging, accelerating economic development, not only in Asia, but in other continents, such as Africa. Yes, we have problems and differences, he said, but “the logic of history, … the logic of development, the objective interests of the countries participating in the transition to a new technological world economic order allows us, despite all the obstacles, achieve positive results in order to advance, step by step.” [All quotes are translated from the Spanish translation of the original Russian.]


Iran-Kyrgyzstan Rail Corridor Discussed

Sept. 25 (EIRNS)–During a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week in New York, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kazakbaev congratulated Amir-Abdollahian on his appointment as Iran’s top diplomat, and proposed a direct flight between Bishkek and Tehran. Kazakbaev also expressed willingness to use the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas’s capacity for transit cooperation.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Minister said his country’s internal conditions are better than ever for the presence of Iranian economic activists, calling for the two countries to work together on cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. He also said Kyrgyzstan is ready to cooperate in the construction of a railway corridor between the two countries.

The Iranian government has already proposed some time ago to Central Asians, the value of making effective use of Iranian ports and the development of the Uzbek-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman transport corridor. This could connect to the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway line being built, as well as to the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Iran corridor. A part of this latter project, there are connections for the Afghan cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat with the Iranian port of Chabahar. 


Schiller Institute Internet Dialogue — ‘Need Creative Genius of the World to Bear on Haiti and Afghanistan’

Sept. 25 (EIRNS)—Today the Schiller Institute held an international webinar titled, “Reconstructing Haiti—America’s Way Out of the ‘Global Britain’ Trap. The two-and-a-half-hour discussion featured elements of a proposed development outline for Haiti, as well as immediate emergency action required, and brought together experts, with ties to Haiti, in engineering, medicine and development policy. Today’s deliberations stand in stark contrast to the events of the week, which included the U.S. forced deportation of thousands of displaced Haitians from the Texas-Mexico border, back to Haiti, to disaster conditions from the August earthquake and before.  

The six panelists were Richard Freeman, co-author of “The Schiller Institute Plan To Develop Haiti,” which EIR will publish this week for its Oct. 1 issue; Eric Walcott, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Institute of Caribbean Studies; Firmin Backer, co-founder and President of the Haiti Renewal Alliance; Joel DeJean, engineer and Texas activist with The LaRouche Organization; Dr. Walter Faggett, MD, based in Washington, D.C., where he is former Chief Medical Officer of the District of Columbia, and currently Co-Chairman of the Health Council of D.C.’s Ward 8, and an international leader with the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites; and moderator Dennis Speed of the Schiller Institute. 

Freeman presented both the dimensions of both the extreme underdevelopment forced for decades on Haiti, and also the essentials of a development program for that nation, in the context of development of all the Island of Hispaniola, and the Caribbean. He presented a map of proposed rail, nuclear power sites, safe water systems and other vital infrastructure. He showed maps of proposals that Chinese firms had made in recent years, but which fell into abeyance.

Firmin Backer pointed out that the USAID has spent $5.1 billion in Haiti over the 11 years since the 2010 earthquake, but what is there to show for it? Now, with the latest earthquake on Aug. 14, we can’t even get aid into the stricken zones, because there is no airport nor port in southern Haiti to serve the stricken people. We should reassess how wrongly the U.S. funding was spent. Firmin reported how Haiti was given some debt cancellation by the IMF years back, but then disallowed from seeking foreign credit! 

Eric Walcott was adamant, “We need the creative genius of the world to bear on Haiti and Afghanistan.” He said, “leverage the diaspora” to develop Haiti. There are more Haitian medics in New York and Miami than all of Haiti. He stressed that Haiti is not poor; the conditions are what is poor. But the population has pride, talent and resourcefulness. Walcott made a special point about elections in Haiti. He said, “Elections are a process,” not an event. He has experience. From 1998 to 2000, Walcott served as the lead observer for the OAS, for elections in Haiti. 

Joel DeJean, an American of Haitian lineage, was forceful about the need to aim for the highest level in that nation, for example, leapfrog from charcoal to nuclear power. He advised, “give China the opportunity” to deploy the very latest nuclear technology in Haiti—the pebble-bed gas cooled modular reactor. We “don’t need more nuclear submarines, we need nuclear technology!” He called for the establishment of a development bank in Haiti, and other specifics. 

Dr. Faggett summed up at many points, with the widest viewpoint and encouragement of action. He served in the U.S. military’s “Caribbean Peace-Keeping Force,” and was emphatic about taking action not only in Haiti, but worldwide. He referenced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, saying that “you can tell a lot about people, by how they take care of the health of their people.” He reported that, at present, aid workers in Haiti, are having to shelter in place, because of the terrible conditions. 

But, he said, we should mobilize. Have “vaccine diplomacy,” and work to build a health platform in Haiti, and a health care delivery system the world over. He is “excited about realizing Helga’s mission,” referring to Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, who issued a call in June 2020, for a world health security platform. At that time, she and Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, formed the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites


Russia Revives Witte Plan for Siberian Development

Russia Revives Witte Plan for Siberian Development

Sep. 6 (EIRNS) — Russia seems prepared to resurrect the Sergei Witte plan for the economic development of Siberia and launch a new program for Siberian development with a proposal by Minister of Defense Gen. Sergei Shoigu, himself a Siberian, for building a new city between the Siberian cities of Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk. This would create the type of city-clusters which have proven so successful in China. Shoigu had earlier put forward a proposal for moving the Russian capital from Moscow to somewhere in Siberia. Shoigu has also proposed giving “Siberian mortgage loans” to settlers willing to move to the new city. He proposes building three to five new cities in Siberia. His proposal has been accepted by the Kremlin and he has been assigned to work out a plan of development.


‘Staggering’ Hunger Crisis: Democratic Republic of the Congo

‘Staggering’ Hunger Crisis Identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

April 7 (EIRNS)—The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable; they are the results of humanity’s failure to leave the oligarchical system behind. As American statesman Lyndon LaRouche proved scientifically, and China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.” China’s full report is here.


Nigerian President: Lake Chad Water Transfer Is Imperative

Nigerian President: Lake Chad Water Transfer Is Imperative

April 4 (EIRNS) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari forcefully relaunched the Lake Chad Water Transfer Project, known as Transaqua, in a meeting with visiting Chad President Idris Deby on March 27.

Buhari reminded everyone that about 30 million people are adversely affected by a shrunken Lake Chad, which is now just about ten per cent of its original size, and “It is imperative that there be water transfer to the Lake Chad from the Congo Basin, so that the people can resume their normal lives.” This was reported in an official press release from the Presidency.

“He added that with inter-basin water transfer, farming, fishing, animal husbandry would resume, and curtail irregular migration of youths, who now brave the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to get into Europe, seeking greener pastures,.” says the statement by Buhari’s special media advisor Femi Adesina.

“I’ve been engaging with the relevant stakeholders in Africa and beyond, on why we need to recharge Lake Chad. Nigeria will benefit more, but it is also advantageous to everyone,’’ President Buhari added.

Chad President Idris Deby said that the recharge of Lake Chad is of importance not only for the whole of Africa but for the entire world. He counseled the Nigerian President to consider convening an international summit to move the idea forward.

At the end of February 2018, member states of the Lake Chad Basin Committee adopted Transaqua, the project drafted by a group of Italian engineers led by Dr. Marcello Vichi over 40 years ago, as the only feasible solution to the Lake Chad crisis. Eventually, the Italian Environment Ministry and the Lake Chad Basin Commission signed an MoU for a 1.5 million Euro grant to finance a feasibility study for the project. At the end of 2019, Italian senator Tony Iwoby provided for doubling that fund with an entitlement in the 2021 national budget. However, the study has never taken off, allegedly because the African side did not take action, despite the Italian Ministry of Environment having given green light to the proposed Terms of Reference. It is not excluded that some LCBC member states underwent pressures from European neocolonial circles who have long undertaken a stealth opposition against Transaqua.
Meanwhile, last November 2020, former EU Commission Chairman and former UN envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi confirmed his full support for Transaqua and for a possible international coalition to build Transaqua, involving the UN, the EU, the OAU and China.

President Buhari’s new intervention is hopefully giving new impulse to the project


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