(Doha) The U.S. ambassador received from the Taliban on Tuesday, during an official visit to Qatar, a new firm commitment that Afghans seeking to leave the country can do so without any hindrance.
Qatar, for its part, has confirmed that the Kabul airport will reopen soon without giving a date.
Anthony Blinken, along with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, told a news conference that he had received a pledge from the new masters in Kabul to “let people with travel documents go free.”
“We are waiting for them on this issue,” he added. “The entire international community expects the Taliban to honor this commitment.”
According to American NGO Ascendant Athletics Director Marina Legre, the Joe Biden administration is under pressure in the wake of the sometimes confusing information about several hundred people, including Americans, stranded at Mazar-i-Sharif airport in northern Afghanistan.
She said a total of 600 to 1,300 people, including 19 Americans, are trying to leave with the help of her organization and other agencies.
On this matter, Mr. Blinken explained that the Taliban did not prevent anyone from leaving with valid papers, but not all passengers on charter flights had them. He argued that there was no “hostage-type situation” in Mazar-i-Sharif and that there were no ground personnel in the United States.
“We are not in a position to verify the accuracy of passenger lists, locating passengers on these planes, security protocols or (equipment) intended to land. These are real concerns,” he explained.
For their part, Qatar and its Turkish ally have been working for days to reopen Kabul airport, which sank after the Taliban took power in mid-August and closed after the departure of the Americans.
The airport is urgent, especially today to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance, even as winter approaches in Afghanistan.
“We will not forget”
Qatar has played a key role in the crisis, in the role of a neutral and effective mediator. In particular, he welcomed Donald Trump’s talks between the United States and the Taliban, which ended in 2020, followed by the now – ousted President Ashraf Ghani’s Afghan opposition and later.
This visit to Doha by Anthony Blinken and LLoyd Austin was in dire straits when the first American officers arrived in the area on 15 August and the last American soldiers departed from Kabul two weeks later.
On Monday evening, the two men were received by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for dinner. “Many countries have intervened to take part in the evacuation in Afghanistan, but none other than Qatar,” Mr Blinken said on Tuesday, congratulating the 58,000 refugees who had passed through Doha.
“Even the men, women and children there will never forget us,” he came out exclusively, offering Doha exclusively 10,000 meals three times a day, opening its hospitals and coordinating the work of humanitarian organizations.
Mr Blinken subsequently met with officials at al-Udeid, a U.S. military base in Qatar where thousands of Afghan refugees live.
He left for Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday morning, temporarily hosting thousands of Afghans en route to the United States. He is a virtual meeting of ministers from nearly 20 countries with his German counterpart Haiko Mass, a growing “contact group” on the Afghan crisis.
On Monday evening, an American official indicated that four nationals from the same family had left Afghanistan by land as part of the first US-organized departure since leaving the country in late August. The Taliban were informed and “prevented” from leaving Afghanistan, he said, without specifying which border country these American nationals had entered.