US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Qatar late on Monday. The evacuation of US citizens, and risky Afghans, who cooperated with the US during the 20-year long war, is expected to be on the top of the agenda. During the US top diplomat’s visit, Blinken will reportedly attempt to create a unified approach among allies in approaching the Taliban.
The US State Department previously reported that Blinken and Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, would pay separate visits to the Arab Gulf States to thank for their support in evacuation operations as well as to discuss further cooperation to cope with the situation in Afghanistan. In this context, Austin is said to be visiting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Blinken, on the other hand, will also stop at Ramstein Airbase in Germany following his trip to Qatar.
Meanwhile, Blinken’s visit to Doha coincided with the evacuation of four Americans, which was facilitated by Washington, through land from Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters, a senior official from the State Department said, “this is the first overland evacuation facilitated by the State Department,” adding that “the Taliban were aware of the operation and did not impede the safe passage of the individuals.”
Stating that the American Embassy greeted the evacuated people as they crossed the border into the third country, the official did not name the country. Approximately 100 more US citizens are waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan, according to the officials.
Within the scope of his trip, Antony Blinken was received by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. According to the statement issued by the State Department following the meeting, Blinken expressed his country’s gratitude for “Qatar’s extraordinary support in facilitating the safe transit of US citizens, its partners, and other Afghans at-risk” during the meeting.
Qatar has become the main mediator between the Taliban and Western countries as the group established control over most of the country following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Saturday, Doha announced that Kabul airport had been reopened through its coordination with the group for humanitarian assistance and domestic flights, adding that international flights are expected to perpetuate soon.