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FirstFT: US and UK send troops to help evacuate Afghan embassies

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The US and UK will deploy troops to help evacuate staff from their embassies in Kabul as the Taliban continues its lightning rout of provincial capitals in Afghanistan following president Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw American troops.

The Pentagon said it was sending 3,000 troops to Kabul in the coming days to help with the embassy evacuation, including aircraft that could help fly personnel out of the Afghan capital, and a back-up brigade of 3,500 soldiers to Kuwait in case the security situation deteriorates further.

The State Department said it was pulling diplomats out because of the threat posed by the advance of the Taliban, adding that only a small number of personnel would be left after the operation was completed. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, insisted the deployment was not part of a combat mission, though soldiers would be equipped to defend themselves.

“We are further reducing our footprint in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation,” Ned Price, state department spokesperson, said yesterday. “We expect to draw down to a core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.”

The UK deployment, also announced yesterday, will include 600 troops for speeding up evacuations of some diplomatic personnel and Afghans who worked with British forces. 

Read more: The Taliban captured Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Herat, after a day of fierce fighting. The militant group has now taken control in 11 provincial capitals.

Five more stories in the news

1. Adidas sells Reebok for up to €2.1bn Adidas is selling Reebok for up to €2.1bn to US-based celebrity and clothing licensing group Authentic Brands. The deal draws a line under the German sportswear maker’s ill-fated acquisition in 2005 when Adidas bought Reebok for $3.8bn in an attempt to compete with rival Nike.

2. Reddit value jumps to $10bn after new fundraising The online discussion forum, whose users roiled US stock markets earlier this year, is experiencing its own valuation spike with a new financing round putting its worth at $10bn. The company has tripled in value in the past two-and-a-half years.

3. Extreme weather blows out catastrophe insurance losses Wildfires, US winter storms and tornadoes in Europe helped deal an estimated $40bn blow to global insurers in the first half of 2021, marking the worst start to a year for natural catastrophe insurance in a decade.

4. China unveils five-year plan China has released a five-year plan to strengthen regulatory control over strategic sectors including technology and healthcare in Beijing’s latest push to assert Communist party supremacy over the world’s second-largest economy.

5. Fed could limit stimulus as soon as this year The Federal Reserve could start reducing its pandemic levels of monetary support for the US economy by the end of 2021. A top central bank official pointed to a strong recovery in US economic activity and consumer spending.

Coronavirus digest

US health officials are preparing to authorise a third dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for immunocompromised adults, as doctor Anthony Fauci said booster shots were “inevitable” for the wider US population.

The fall in the UK coronavirus infection rate has slowed, a leading survey has found, with signs emerging of an uptick in daily cases.

Europe’s motley crew of Covid passport protesters have found unity in liberty.

New Zealand will gradually reopen its international border next year and speed up its vaccination rollout, which is among the slowest in the developed world. Several crucial industries have lobbied for easing travel restrictions as the country faces severe skills shortages.

New Zealand lags behind global leaders on vaccines

After losing the sprint, the EU is leading the vaccine marathon, our editorial board writes. The bloc is now vaccinating at twice the rate of the US or the UK. Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter and follow our live blog for the latest.

The day ahead

Samsung Billionaire Lee Jae-yong is expected to leave prison today after being granted parole on Monday. The Samsung leader was convicted for bribing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye to help secure control of Samsung Electronics. His release will refocus attention on the uneasy relationship between the conglomerate and the government.

Football A new football season kicks off today in Europe. The post-Messi era starts for La Liga in Spain and the Premier League’s opening game in England sees newly promoted Brentford playing at home to Arsenal. (AP)

Earnings Suzuki Motor Corp, Alrosa and Rusal are among the companies reporting earnings. Read the full list here.

What else we’re reading

How Turkey became a star of European tech Since last summer, Turkish tech companies have seen their valuations vault above the billion-dollar mark that is seen as a marker for start-up success. But while a flurry of investment into Turkish start-ups has put Istanbul on the map alongside other European tech clusters, its newfound success has been many years in the making.

Chart showing Turkish tech companies raising more capital in 2021 than the previous four years combined

Why central bankers keep their cool over rising house prices Inflation-obsessed central bankers are growing sympathetic to the plight of millions squeezed out of property markets by soaring prices. But taking action is another matter. Read the fifth instalment of our global house prices series.

Peru’s new finance minister confronts challenges “I’m a leftist who believes that reducing inequality is absolutely fundamental and perfectly compatible with reasonable macroeconomic management,” former World Bank economist Pedro Francke told the Financial Times. “The two things can go hand in hand.”

Switzerland’s ‘Silicon Valley of smell’ The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how people want themselves, their clothes and their homes to smell. On the outskirts of Geneva is proof of how lucrative scent can be. The efforts of two companies that dominate the way the world smells are exacting, almost Willy Wonka-like, writes Sam Jones.

How do you stay together when you’re thousands of miles apart? When the pandemic hit, abrupt border closures separated thousands of couples around the world. “A Pandemic Love Story” is a year-long web documentary that captures the feeds that constitute long-distance relationships in the digital era. The FT has reproduced a few of these stories.

Visual Arts

Six international art exhibitions Tyler Mitchell in New York, Rachel Kneebone in London and Arthur Timothy in Accra — here are some shows to bookmark for late summer.

‘Riverside Scene’, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell
‘Riverside Scene’, 2021, by Tyler Mitchell, who looks back at his roots in the American South © Tyler Mitchell

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