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Qatar urges Taliban to ensure ‘safe passage’ out of Afghanistan

Qatar urges Taliban to ensure ‘safe passage’ out of Afghanistan Qatar hosted negotiations between the Taliban and the United States in recent years and was a transit point for about 43,000 evacuees from Afghanistan after the country was taken over by the group.

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Qatar has urged the Taliban to ensure “safe passage” for people still wanting to leave Afghanistan after the deadly and chaotic US-led evacuations came to an end.

More than 123,000 foreign nationals and Afghans fled the country in a frenzied airlift operation that wound up on Tuesday, but many more are desperate to depart.

“We stress on the Taliban the issue of freedom of movement and that there be safe passage for people to leave and enter if they so wish,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani told a press conference after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart, Sigrid Kaag.

“We hope to see these commitments fulfilled in the near future when the airport begins operations again and that it happens smoothly, with no obstacles for anyone wanting to leave or come to Afghanistan.”

US officials have said Kabul airport is in a bad condition, with much of its basic infrastructure degraded or destroyed.

Taliban fighters celebrated with gunfire on Tuesday after the last US forces abandoned Kabul following a two-decade war.

Qatar hosted negotiations between the Taliban and the United States in recent years and was a transit point for about 43,000 evacuees from Afghanistan.

Touching on the pace of aid to Afghanistan post-Taliban, Thani said there was no visible decline and vowed to deliver on its pledges of humanitarian aid to the country.

“Under the right circumstances, the EU will be generous,” with its help for refugees Kaag said, warning that irregular migration was harming refugees.

“We need to help provide assistance for sake of Afghans, not for the sake of any government or regime,” she said, adding projects are needed to ensure girls’ education.

Universal freedoms, women’s rights

Kaag said the two foreign ministers discussed the conditions of the vulnerable religious and ethnic minority, as well as women and girls under Taliban rule.

She said the EU meetings in recent days will focus on what the bloc expects from the Taliban which has to translate to tangible steps, referring to the English saying, “the proof is in the pudding”.

Conditions the Taliban need to fulfil include inclusive political processes, respect for universal human rights and girls’ and women’s rights.

“An extensive part of the Doha negotiations centred on women,” Thani said.

He shared that Qatar has asked the Taliban to reconsider and readdress women’s rights and to keep its promises.

“Qatar as a Muslim country is an example” of women working, studying and partaking in society, he added.

Diplomatic missions move to Doha

Kaag said the Netherlands will move its Kabul diplomatic mission to Qatar, following similar moves by the United States and Britain.

“I’ve asked his excellency very kindly agree to the relocation of the Netherlands embassy from Kabul to Doha,” Kaag told journalists.

She also stressed “the importance of ensuring that Afghanistan no longer resumes becoming a base for terrorist organisations”.

“I’ve also asked (the Qatari foreign minister) to employ his influence and context to really help all parties in Afghanistan, to reach an inclusive political agreement that ensures stability and future prosperity.”

The US invaded Afghanistan and toppled its Taliban government in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda, which had sought sanctuary in the country.

Western capitals fear Afghanistan could again become a haven for extremists bent on attacks.

Gulf countries, including Qatar, have been instrumental staging posts for evacuation flights for Western countries’ citizens as well as Afghan interpreters, journalists and others.

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