Blinken Tours Allies Aiming to Tackle Taliban Related Issues
The tour comes right after both Republicans and Democrats heavily criticized the Biden administration's chaotic withdrawal.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken seeks to form a united front with his country's allies focused on dealing with Taliban-related issues, and to ensure continued support for Washington's efforts to evacuate remaining personnel at risk in Afghanistan.
Blinken will visit Qatar and Germany, where he will meet with senior Qatari officials in Doha, and with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Ramstein Air Base, while co-hosting a ministerial meeting to discuss the Afghanistan file.
Blinken is expected to meet with American diplomats working on the file in Qatar after Washington transferred its mission from Kabul to Doha. The country has become the US’ headquarter in dealing with the Afghan situation after being the liaison between both parties.
A technical team from Qatar reopened Kabul Airport Saturday to domestic flights and aid access, considered as one of the key elements to ensure the flow of aid to Afghanistan.
As for Ramstein Air Force Base, US officials said Blinken will also visit a temporary transit center, through which nearly 30,000 evacuees have passed, and still houses more than 17,000 as of Friday.
Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson announced in a press statement that the tour is focused on thanking both Qatar and Germany for their vital support in the recent events.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is set to start a broader Gulf tour that includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
The visits by Blinken and Austin come at a time when President Joe Biden's administration is grappling with the consequences of what was widely seen as a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
US officials said neither Blinken nor Austin are expected to meet with members of the Taliban.
The two-decade US occupation in Afghanistan ended with chaotic rushed airlifts, which were soon exacerbated by a suicide attack outside Kabul airport which killed hundreds of Afghans in addition to 13 US soldiers.
Despite these evacuations being among the largest in history, with more than 120,000 Americans and Afghans evacuated, along with other nationalities, thousands of Afghan cooperators remained stranded along with about 100 Americans.
Blinken pledged to continue efforts to get those stranded out and to hold the Taliban to its promises to provide safe passage for all those wishing to leave.