Here’s the situation report for Asia-Pacific so far this week.

UAE Head of State Met Afghan Taliban Senior Official

In a rare chance meeting, the acting defense minister of the Afghan Taliban sat down with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) president to discuss “strengthening relations” and “bilateral cooperation,” among many others, between the two countries.

According to reports, UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met the son of the late Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Yaqoob, who is also the acting defense minister of the group, in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, December 4. This was the first meeting of the two senior officials months after the finalization of the airport services contract, which involved the UAE company GAAC Holding.

In September, the Emirati company won over the contract that would “provide flight services and manage plane landing and taking off at key airports in Afghanistan” over rival bidders Qatar and Turkey. The agreement also includes installing equipment and training Afghan personnel at the country’s three major airports, namely Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar.

Afghan Taliban official met UAE President
(Screenshot from Reuters)

During the signing ceremony, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister, said that despite the criticism it has been receiving from the international community, the “strengthening of the economy is a priority for the (Taliban) government.”

This agreement will have a positive effect on trade and economic growth of the country,” he added.

Last year, after the nearly 20-year-old War in Afghanistan ended and the US forces evacuated the country, the Taliban reclaimed the entire Afghanistan and has been running the government since. Nonetheless, the rest of the international community continues to be skeptical of Kabul’s new ruler and has refused to recognize the Taliban government, with most of Afghanistan’s assets abroad still frozen.

US B-21 Stealth Bomber Poses New Defense Challenges to China: Analysts

The United States Air Force (USAF) unveiled its newest nuclear stealth bomber, giving the world the first glimpse of its latest strength and a power flex to its adversaries during the much-awaited unveiling event held in Palmdale, California. The B-21 Raider is the first American bomber aircraft in over three decades.