US withdrawal from Afghanistan; Germany vaccine rollout; Blue Origin’s commercial space flight

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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • The United States has begun the process of withdrawing all its troops from Afghanistan in line with President Joe Biden’s campaign promise of ending forever wars. Last week, the Pentagon deployed additional warplanes to bolster the protection of American and coalition troops during the withdrawal process. Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called for urgent action in Afghanistan to prevent a "spring offensive by the Taliban" as the 14-month ceasefire window under the Doha agreement, signed in February, last year, headed towards completion.

  • German health minister Jens Spahn said last week that the country will allow the administration of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to adults of all ages. The country is setting a target to start vaccinating those aged between 12 and 18 by the end of August. Legislation passed amidst protests last month allows Germany’s federal government to impose night-time curfews in areas where cases exceed 100 per 100,000 residents on three consecutive days and even stricter curbs where cases go above 165 per 100,000.

  • In a significant development for the space tourism industry, Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin announced last week that its space tourism rocket, New Shepard will leave for its first commercial sub-orbital journey on July 20th. The space shuttle is designed to carry six passengers and the company said that it has started accepting bids for the final seat, without revealing any price details. New Shepherd, named after Alan Shepard who was the first American in space will complete a 30-minute journey in its inaugural passenger flight.

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