Qatar is working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul’s airport as soon as possible, its foreign minister said on Thursday, urging the hardline Islamists to allow Afghans to leave the country.
The airport, the scene of a frenzied evacuation which ended with the US troop withdrawal on Tuesday, is out of operation with much of its infrastructure destroyed or degraded.
“We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
“Hopefully in the next few days we will hear some good news,” added Sheikh Mohammed.
“It’s very important… that the Taliban demonstrate their commitment to provide safe passage and freedom of movement for the people of Afghanistan,” he told a news conference in Doha.
A Qatari technical team flew into Kabul on Wednesday to discuss reopening the airport, the first plane to land there since the evacuations.
More than 123,000 foreign nationals and Afghans fled the country in the airlift operation, but many more are desperate to depart.
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Sheikh Mohammed was speaking during a joint press conference with UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who visited housing for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan earlier in the day.
“Our commitment on the part of the United Kingdom to Afghanistan remains. We need to adjust to the new reality,” Raab told reporters, stressing the need to engage with the Taliban.
“Our immediate priority is to secure the safe passage of those remaining British nationals, and also the Afghans who worked for the United Kingdom, and others who may be at the most risk,” Raab said, adding that he would be talking to regional leaders about securing safe passage through third countries.
Britain has moved its Afghanistan embassy from Kabul to the Qatari capital Doha.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)