Saturday, October 16, 2021

US Secretary of State Blinken to Visit Qatar, Germany, for Afghanistan Diplomacy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Qatar on a trip that will take him also to Germany for talks with key US allies about the situation in Afghanistan.

“Leaving to Doha, Qatar and Ramstein, Germany, where I will have the opportunity to thank my Qatari and German friends in person for the tremendous support they have provided for the safe transit of US citizens, Afghanistan and other travelers. another refugee from Afghanistan,” Blinken tweeted late Sunday (5/9).

Read Also:  Expansion of evacuation window in Afghanistan unlikely, UK warns

Qatar is a key hub for the massive US air evacuation from Kabul and the first landing point for thousands of Afghan refugees after the Taliban’s takeover of power last month.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boarded a plane as he left Washington from Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Sunday, September 5, 2021, to travel to Doha, Qatar and Ramstein, Germany. (Photo: AP)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also visited US allies in the Middle East to thank them for their assistance in the evacuation from Afghanistan, and to meet with US troops. His tour includes Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“I am on my way to the Gulf to personally thank our partners there for their support for the Afghan evacuation effort. Operation ALLIED REFUGE would not have been possible without the help of our friends in the Gulf. Their support saves lives,” Austin tweeted Sunday (5/9).

Blinken told reporters Friday that while in Germany, he would head to the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base to thank US troops and meet Afghan refugees.

Blinken also said he would chair a virtual meeting of ministers from 20 countries to discuss Afghanistan on Wednesday together with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He said the 20 countries “all have a stake in helping to relocate and resettle Afghans and in prosecuting the Taliban for their commitments.”

The Taliban have promised to provide a safe passage for Afghans and others wishing to leave the country, but many Afghans doubt the promise is reliable.

In Friday’s statement, Blinken again defended the US exit from Afghanistan, saying that a relatively small number of American citizens are still in the country and the State Department is actively engaged with all of them.

He said the United States remains committed to helping any American who wishes to leave and assisting candidates for Special Immigrant Visas and other Afghans who have helped the United States.

Biden’s government has come under fire from Republican legislators, human rights organizations and others for its handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15. [uh/ab]

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