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Saturday, January 22 2022

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Qatar to represent US interests in Afghanistan: Blinken

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Qatar has agreed to represent American interests in Afghanistan following the closure of the Embassy in Kabul in August.

Blinken made the announcement at a news conference on Friday after holding talks with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Today, we’re signing two new agreements that reflect our deepening collaboration on Afghanistan. The first establishes Qatar as the US’ protecting power in Afghanistan,” said Blinken.

Qatar will establish a US intersection within its Embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the security of American diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan, Blinken said.

“The second agreement formalizes our partnership with Qatar to facilitate the travel of Afghans with US special immigrant visas, a role that it’s already been playing in many instances and serve as a transit point for eligible Afghans as they complete their application process.

“Of the more than 124,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan in August, roughly half transited through Qatar,” the Secretary of State added.

On his part, Al Thani said Qatar will “continue to be an instrument of peace and stability in the region”.

“There is still much to be done in Afghanistan, and Qatar remains committed to continue the necessary work alongside with the US and partners around the world,” the Minister said.

“we are dedicated to contributing to the stability of Afghanistan and the safety and well-being of the Afghan people.”

Afghanistan fell to the Taliban after the US completed its withdrawal from the war-torn nation at the end of August, ending its 20-year war against terror.

Over 2,400 US troops had been killed in Afghanistan over the past two decades, with 20,000 wounded, according to the Pentagon.

Estimates showed that over 66,000 Afghan troops had been killed, and over 2.7 million people were displaced as a result of the conflict.

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