The Secretary will discuss coordination of the evacuation efforts and other regional priorities that highlight the strength of the US-Qatar partnership, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday departed for Qatar and Germany to thank both countries in person for the outstanding support in the safe transit of US citizens, Afghans and other evacuees from Afghanistan.
“Departing for Doha, Qatar and Ramstein, Germany where I’ll have the opportunity to thank our Qatari and German friends in-person for the outstanding support they’ve given to safely transit US citizens, Afghans, and other evacuees from Afghanistan,” tweeted Blinken.
Blinken will be visiting Qatar and Germany from September 5 to 8.
“This trip will underscore the importance of cooperation on Afghanistan and allow me to thank our staff and German and Qatari friends for their efforts in supporting the largest airlift in history,” said Blinken.
“Secretary Blinken will travel to Qatar from September 6-8. He will meet with Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and other senior officials to thank Qatar for its generous support for the safe transit of US citizens, Afghans, and other evacuees from Afghanistan,” read State Department spokesperson Ned Price statement.
The Secretary will discuss coordination of the evacuation efforts and other regional priorities that highlight the strength of the US-Qatar partnership.
Meanwhile, on September 8, Blinken will travel to Germany, said the statement, adding that “there, he will meet with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, attend a Ministerial on Afghanistan, and visit the major transit operation moving people from Afghanistan to the United States via Ramstein Air Base.”
“This is an opportunity to reaffirm the strong alliance between the United States and Germany and our close cooperation on shared foreign policy priorities. The Secretary will convey the United States’ gratitude to the German government for being an invaluable partner in Afghanistan for the past 20 years and for German cooperation on transit operations moving people out of Afghanistan,” read the statement.
Around 1000 citizens wait for evacuation
The Taliban are preventing around 1000 people including dozens of American citizens and Afghans holding visas to the US or other countries, from leaving Afghanistan, US media reports said on Sunday.
Multiple planes are waiting for clearance for the departure from the group, The New York Times (NYT) reported and added that the holdup is caused due to ongoing negotiations between the US and Taliban.
This comes as the United States completed its withdrawal last week, after the Taliban’s swift takeover of Kabul, following an offensive that saw the rapid fall of the Afghan government forces.
US media reports say, the planes stuck in Afghanistan are not currently loaded and the passengers are being held nearby as the Taliban won’t let them inside the airport.
A Pentagon official concerned with evacuation operations said the reason the Taliban wants to prevent these people from leaving is likely because they intend to punish them for their cooperation with the US. If the Taliban really are using people as a bargaining chip, former senior Pentagon Mick Mulroy said that “is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, senior Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul told Fox News that the Taliban has blocked Americans aboard six planes at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport from leaving the country while they make demands from the US.
“State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” Mr. McCaul said, adding that he believed the problem was “turning into a hostage situation.” McCaul said the Taliban wanted “something in exchange” for approving takeoff of the planes and that they are seeking “full recognition from the United States of America.”
Last Friday, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken had said that the United States is in “constant contact” with Americans remaining in Afghanistan who still wish to leave the country.
“Our new team in Doha, Qatar is running, we are in constant contact with Americans who remain in Afghanistan, and wish to leave…we’ve assigned management team for the same,” said Blinken days after troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken had said that the US will “continue to maintain channels of communication with the Taliban on issues such as its commitment to let people leave Afghanistan should they choose to do so.”