US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and different top Qatari officers in Doha for talks on Afghanistan – shortly after the Taliban claimed to have taken full management of the nation.
Blinken and Austin are essentially the most senior US officers to go to the Gulf because the Taliban’s lightning seizure of Afghanistan in August.
Qatar, which hosts a serious US airbase, has been the gateway for 58,000 folks airlifted out of Afghanistan, almost half the entire quantity evacuated by US-led forces after the Taliban’s takeover, Blinken stated on Tuesday.
In a gathering with Qatar’s emir on Monday evening, Blinken thanked the Gulf state ruler for “Qatar’s extraordinary support in facilitating the safe transit of US citizens, our partners, and other Afghans at risk” in the course of the US’s chaotic army pullout from Afghanistan, in line with a Department of State readout.
On Tuesday, Blinken and Austin met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and defence chief Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah.
Blinken stated Washington would proceed to work with Qatar and different regional companions to evacuate US residents and susceptible Afghans from Afghanistan.
“Many countries have stepped up to help the evacuation and relocation efforts in Afghanistan, but no country has done more than Qatar,” Blinken stated in a joint information convention with Austin and their Qatari counterparts on Tuesday.
“The strongest relationship that we and Qatar have built through this evacuation and relocation effort I know is going to pay continued dividends across these so many other key areas in the months and years ahead,” Blinken stated.
“What Qatar has done here – for Americans, for Afghans, for citizens of many other countries – will be remembered for a long, long time,” he added.
Qatar’s international minister, in the meantime, stated Qatari groups had been persevering with to work in direction of re-opening Kabul worldwide airport, which the Taliban took management of when US troops left on August 30.
“We have already dispatched our teams there to provide technical assistance that is required to bring the airport and make it up and running again,” he stated. “We have fixed a lot of the elements over there and we are about to get everything operational very soon.”
However, he added: “We didn’t reach yet an agreement on how to manage or to run the airport. We are continuing the humanitarian support and we are chartering, almost on a daily basis, flights with humanitarian aid and also receiving supplies from different countries with humanitarian aid”.
The US officers weren’t on account of meet any of the Taliban’s Doha representatives, however State Department official Dean Thompson stated Washington would proceed to have interaction with the group “to ensure our messaging with them is clear”.
Blinken is about to depart Qatar on Wednesday for the US airbase in Ramstein, Germany. Austin is scheduled to journey to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Vow to proceed evacuations
Qatar has been uniquely positioned as an interlocutor between numerous curiosity teams because the scenario in Afghanistan deteriorated.
The Gulf nation hosts the Taliban’s political workplace in Doha, which opened in 2013, and subsequently hosted talks between Washington and the group that concluded in 2020 with a troop withdrawal settlement. It was adopted by direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.
Blinken and Austin’s go to got here after the Taliban on Monday claimed whole management over Afghanistan, saying it received the important thing battle for the Panjshir Valley, the final remaining holdout in opposition to its rule.
The group is but to finalise its new authorities after rolling into Kabul three weeks in the past at a pace that analysts say probably shocked even the armed group itself.
Meanwhile, Washington is intently watching whether or not the Taliban makes good on guarantees to let American residents and allies depart.
Shortly earlier than Blinken landed in Qatar, a US official disclosed that 4 US residents had left Afghanistan with Taliban information, in the primary departures organized by Washington since its withdrawal.
The 4 US residents left by land and had been greeted by US diplomats, stated the senior official, with out specifying to which nation they crossed, including “the Taliban did not impede them”.
At the identical time, legislators and assist teams have stated a whole bunch of folks, together with US residents, have been blocked from leaving on constitution flights from Mazar-i-Sharif airport in Afghanistan’s north.
On Tuesday, Blinken stated “somewhere around 100” American residents – principally twin residents – stay in Afghanistan, and the US has been in contact with “virtually all of them”.
“It’s my understanding that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document”, he stated however added that these travelling in teams together with people with out correct journey papers could have been blocked.
Blinken added that the US was figuring out what number of Afghans who labored for the US authorities – and are eligible for particular US visas – stay in Afghanistan, once more contesting criticism that the extra susceptible Afghans might have been evacuated earlier than the US withdrawal.