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Antony Blinken at a press conference following a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Sept. 8. Photo: Olivier Douliery/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Taliban leaders Wednesday to allow charter flights to leave Afghanistan, saying it would demonstrate the group's "willingness to respect freedom of movement."

Driving the news: For days, the Taliban has been preventing the departures of at least four chartered evacuation flights from Mazar-e-Sharif airport, in northern Afghanistan.

  • Blinken previously denied reports that the Taliban was preventing people with valid documents from leaving.

What he's saying: "An immediate way the Taliban can demonstrate its willingness to respect freedom of movement is by allowing the departure of charter flights with properly documented passengers," Blinken said.

  • "I think all of you know there are a number of such flights that have been waiting in Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • "We’ve heard in some of our engagements with the Taliban their concern about a so-called brain drain and people with knowledge and expertise leaving the country.
  • "The best way to get people to stay in Afghanistan is to allow them to leave Afghanistan, as well as to uphold their basic rights."

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

2 hours ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.