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Trump intervenes to let Afghan teens attend robot competition in US

Trump intervenes to let Afghan teens attend robot competition in US

Afghanistan is not one of the six countries Trump has tried to target in his legally contested travel ban.

The U.S.is still battling Taliban militants who prohibited girls from attending school in the past. He credited "the professional leadership of the U.S. State Department" for ensuring that all 163 teams from 157 countries, including a team of Syrian refugees, would be able to participate.

Politico, which broke the story Wednesday evening, reported that President Donald Trump had personally intervened and asked officials at the National Security Council to take action.

The Department of State originally denied the Afghan girls visas at least twice, causing some backlash among the public.

"I am extremely grateful to the u.s. government and the department of State to be assured that the Afghanistan (...) will be able to join us and participate in this worldwide competition this year", said the president of the contest FIRST Global Challenge, the former admiral of the US Navy and now a member of Congress Joe Sestak, highlighting the arrivals also teams from Yemen, Libya and Morocco.

Parole is a temporary status in which a person who is otherwise ineligible to enter the country is allowed in temporarily because of an emergency or humanitarian objective.

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The visa denial was not the first hurdle the girls from western Afghanistan's Herat area had to face from the July 16-18 competition, wrote Politico.

"We cried a lot after we heard our visa was rejected", added 15-year-old Kowser Roshan.

The girls traveled from their homes in Herat, making the 800-kilometre (500-mile) journey to the United States embassy in Kabul twice because their applications were denied the first time.

The girls wrote on their competition page: "We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great".

Members of Afghan girls' team have said they are eager to put in display the robots made by them in the competition which will begin on Sunday in Washington. Robots will compete to collect clean and contaminated water "particles" represented by differently colored balls, and cooperation among the teams will also be rewarded throughout the competition, Mr. Sestak said.

A team from Gambia that had previously been denied a visa also had their entry approved this week, according to the statement.


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