Latest news updates: US and Taliban discuss aid and human rights


US and Taliban meet over aid and human rights

A US delegation discussed terrorism, human rights and humanitarian aid with the Taliban in Doha on Sunday.

The state department said the talks in the Qatari capital included a conversation about the “provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people” on Saturday and Sunday.

The statement is one of the clearest signals yet from the US that the country might be willing to work with the Taliban to extend support to Afghanistan, which is facing an economic crisis.

In September, the state department announced it would make aid worth $64m available to international groups such as the World Health Organization to help with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, mainly focused on helping refugees from the country.

The department said the main subjects of the talks were “security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens”, as well as human rights and the participation of women in society.

Big banks resist most direct road map to net zero emissions

Banks have resisted committing to the most explicit road map for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, just weeks before the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

Negotiators for a Mark Carney-led initiative to encourage finance groups to stop funding fossil fuel companies have struggled to convince leading banks to agree to end financing of all new oil, gas and coal exploration projects this year, according to internal messages seen by the Financial Times. This is aligned to research from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Many of the 59 banks signed up to the former Bank of England governor’s initiative prefer to adopt targets from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN scientific body, that are less explicit and allow them to continue oil and gas financing.

Carney’s initiative, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (Gfanz), was formed in April, attracting support from nearly 300 financial institutions with assets of $90tn. The IEA published its analysis in May.

Read more about the initiative and big banks’ resistance here.

Professional black women paid less as careers stagnate, says UK survey

Professional black women in the UK are paid less and have to work twice as hard to be noticed or gain the same opportunities as peers with their careers stagnating in a “mirror-tocracy”, according to research.

Almost three-quarters of black women working in big tech, finance and professional services, said they believed they were being paid less than comparable peers in a London School of Economics and Political Science survey.

More than half reported difficulty in being their “authentic selves” in their organisations, feeling the need to change their persona to fit in with the company culture as they struggle to mirror others because of their contrasting backgrounds, referred by some as a mirror-tocracy

The study also found repeated examples of professional black women being judged on how they looked. In one case, a black woman wearing a suit was mistaken for a cleaner, while another was told she looked more professional when her hair was worn straight rather than left natural.

Read more about the report here.

US Navy engineer and wife charged with selling submarine secrets

US authorities have charged a US Navy employee and his wife with allegedly selling information on nuclear-powered vessels to an undercover FBI agent they believed represented a foreign country in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Jonathan Toebbe, a nuclear engineer with the US Navy, and Diana Toebbe, a humanities teacher, were arrested on Saturday for allegedly sharing restricted military information “with the intent to injure the United States and to secure an advantage to a foreign nation,” according to a complaint filed by the FBI.

“The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation,” said Merrick Garland, the US attorney-general, in a statement on Sunday.

After allegedly sending a package with navy documents to an unnamed foreign country seeking a “covert relationship”, the couple sold sensitive information for nearly a year to an undercover FBI agent for tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency, according to the US justice department.

Read more about the case here.

Moscow’s EU envoy urges Europe to fix ties to avoid gas shortages

The Kremlin’s ambassador to the EU has called on Europe to mend ties with Moscow in order to avoid future gas shortages, but insisted that Russia had nothing to do with the recent jump in prices.

Vladimir Chizov, Russia’s permanent representative to the EU, said he expected Gazprom, the state-controlled exporter that supplies 35 per cent of European gas needs, to respond swiftly to instructions from president Vladimir Putin to adjust output.

Action, which would help curb skyrocketing wholesale prices, was likely to come “sooner rather than later,” he said. Putin “gave some advice to Gazprom, to be more flexible. And something makes me think that Gazprom will listen,” Chizov told the Financial Times.

While rejecting assertions from European lawmakers that Russia had played a role in Europe’s gas crunch, Chizov said Europe’s choice to treat Moscow as a geopolitical “adversary” had not helped.

Read more about the Chizov’s views here.

What to watch in Asia today

IMF and World Bank annual meeting The fund’s annual meetings with the World Bank start today amid the aforementioned turmoil whether Kristalina Georgieva should remain in her post as the IMF chief.

Nobel Prize in economics The winner will be announced in Stockholm today. Keep up with all the Nobel Prize winners here.