The United States is working with the Taliban to evacuate people trying to leave Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, while praising Qatar for helping in evacuating thousands of people.
“We have also been engaging with the Taliban on this topic, including in recent hours,” Blinken said on the evacuation of US citizens and Afghans at risk.
“Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document,” he said, adding that the US will hold them to that commitment.
The fundamentalist Taliban took control of Kabul last month, ahead of the planned US troops withdrawal.
Speaking in the Qatari capital, Doha, Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin praised and thanked Qatar for helping to evacuate 58,000 people from Afghanistan.
Many countries have stepped up to help with evacuation efforts, “but no country has done more than Qatar,” Blinken told a news conference.
Around 4,000 people are still in Qatar awaiting to be transferred to a third country, his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdel-Rahman Al Thani, said.
Qatar, which has been criticized for its close relations with the Taliban, has dispatched teams to provide technical assistance to reopen Kabul airport.
Humanitarian aid flights are starting as a test, the minister said.
To operate as a standard international airport, it needs an upgrade in equipment, he added.
Meanwhile, Turkey is working with Qatar and the US while separately talking with the Taliban about operating Kabul airport, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
Ankara has offered that a private security company run the Kabul airport in case the Taliban maintains objection to foreign military presence there, Cavusoglu added in remarks to broadcaster NTV.
Taliban can still police outside the airport but “an internationally reliable security firm – or one or two states – should provide security inside [the airport],” Cavusoglu said.
“We need to restore security there. Otherwise, insurance companies will reject even if the carriers want to fly,” the Turkish minister added.