UN Votes to Demand Continued Safe Passage: Afghanistan Update
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. continued to evacuate people out of Afghanistan despite a rocket attack aimed at Kabul’s international airport on Monday. As a Tuesday deadline looms for the last U.S. troops to leave and hand over control of the airport to the Taliban, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution offered by France, the U.S. and U.K. aimed at allowing exits to continue.
A meeting on Monday of G-7 members, NATO, Qatar and Turkey was expected to discuss future engagement with the group and seek to ensure the Taliban stand by their promise to allow safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans authorized to enter third countries, Sky News reported. Qatar acknowledged it may play a role at the Kabul airport.
The U.S., which evacuated more than 1,200 people from Kabul over the past 24 hours, is expected to withdraw the last of its troops by Tuesday. Other countries have already completed their final evacuation flights. The Taliban are in talks with Turkey and Qatar about technical support for operations at Kabul airport but there is no agreement yet, Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera reported.
Key stories and developments:
All items are in Eastern Time:
UN Votes to Demand Continued Safe Passage (3:15 p.m.)
The United Nations Security Council voted Monday to approve a resolution demanding “that every effort be made to allow for the rapid and secure reopening of the Kabul airport and its surrounding area.”
The resolution offered by France, the U.K. and the U.S. cites the Taliban pledges that Afghans will be able to travel abroad and leave the country by both air or ground, “including at the reopened and secured Kabul airport, with no one preventing them from traveling.” The vote was 13 in favor with two abstentions.
The council also called for “strengthened efforts” to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to allow for “full, safe, and unhindered access for the United Nations” and its agencies.
UN diplomats said compromises had to be made to accommodate concerns voiced over the weekend by Russia and China, which have veto power in the Security Council and cast the abstaining votes on Monday.
Although it was unclear how the international community will ensure safe passage through the airport without an international force, diplomats said that tools like sanctions are available to coax the Taliban into action. Officials from Turkey and Qatar have acknowledged discussions for them to take over operations at the airport.
The resolution comes as the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was expected to meet with ambassadors from the permanent Security Council members -- France, the U.K., U.S., China and Russia-- on Monday evening. -- David Wainer
White House Cites Economic Pressure on the Taliban (2:54 p.m.)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said united international pressure will prod the Taliban to let Americans and others leave after the U.S.-led evacuation from the airport in Kabul ends.
“We have an enormous amount of leverage, including access to the global marketplace,” Psaki told reporters Monday, saying that’s “not a small piece of leverage.”
Although she said “our current plan is not to have an ongoing presence in Afghanistan as of Sept. 1,” Psaki said that “two successful drone strikes” on Islamic State terrorists in recent days show the U.S. military’s continued ability to strike from distant bases. She said inquiries are underway into assertions that the drone attack Sunday on a vehicle carrying explosives en route to the Kabul airport resulted in 10 civilian deaths. -- Jennifer Epstein
Qatar Says It’s Talking About Role at Kabul Airport (11:40 a.m.)
Qatar confirmed it’s in talks about helping to run the Kabul airport after the U.S. evacuation, which is ending under President Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline.
“Qatar has been taking part in the negotiations around Kabul Airport with Afghan and international parties, mainly the U.S. and Turkey,” Lolwah Al Khater, the assistant foreign minister, said in response to a question from Bloomberg News. “Our main priority is restoring regular operations while preserving safety and security at the airport facilities.”
It’s an indication that Qatar may continue playing a role in diplomatic engagement with the Taliban, after hosting discussions between the Taliban, the U.S., and later, representatives of the Afghan government in Doha over the past few years.
Turkey also has expressed interest in operating the Kabul airport, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that he had security concerns about the arrangement and that nothing was finalized. -- Simone Foxman
UN Taking Up Call for Continued Safe Passage (9:40 a.m.)
The United Nations Security Council plans to vote Monday on a resolution demanding “that every effort be made to allow for the rapid and secure reopening of the Kabul airport and its surrounding area” even as the U.S.-led evacuation is ending.
The U.S., French and U.K. resolution notes the Taliban’s commitment that Afghans should be able to travel abroad and leave Afghanistan by both air or ground, “including at the reopened and secured Kabul airport, with no one preventing them from traveling.”
The draft seen by Bloomberg News also calls for“strengthened efforts” to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to allow for “full, safe, and unhindered access for the United Nations” and its agencies.
The resolution comes as the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to meet with ambassadors from the permanent Security Council members -- France, the U.K., U.S., China and Russia-- this evening. -- David Wainer
Taliban in Talks with Qatar, Turkey to Run Airport (7:50 a.m.)
The Taliban are in talks with Turkey and Qatar about technical support for operations at Kabul airport but there is no agreement yet, Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera reported citing an unidentified Taliban contact. The group will be in full control of the airport after the U.S. withdraws, the contact said. -- Sylvia Westall
U.S. Evacuations Cross 116,000 (7:00 a.m.)
The U.S. has evacuated 1,200 people from Kabul over the past 24 hours, according to a White House statement. Since Aug. 14 approximately 116,700 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan. -- Jennifer Jacobs
U.K.’s Raab to Hold Meetings on Afghanistan, Sky Says (4:00 a.m.)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is planning a series of diplomatic meetings this week that will focus on future engagement with the Taliban, Sky News reports, citing unidentified officials. The talks will focus on trying to make sure the Taliban stand by their promise to allow safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans authorized to enter third countries.
Raab will also join a meeting on Monday with G-7 members, NATO, Qatar and Turkey. -- Deana Kjuka
Taliban Condemn U.S. Drone Strike (2:50 a.m.)
The Taliban condemned a U.S. drone strike on Sunday that destroyed a vehicle with explosives, which Bilal Karimi, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, said killed several members of an Afghan family.
The U.S. should have contacted the Taliban to take action, he said, adding that the “arbitrary attacks” caused civilian casualties. -- Eltaf Najafizada
Talks Between Key Players Sought, Germany Says (2:40 a.m.)
Efforts are being made to arrange formal talks on Afghanistan among all the key international players, and it’s important that Russia and China are included, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Negotiations are ongoing in the United Nations Security Council on a resolution, and it’s not clear yet whether Moscow and Beijing are prepared to accept that, Maas told reporters after talks with his Uzbek counterpart in Tashkent. Diplomats are also trying to gather Afghanistan’s neighbors around one table to coordinate planning, he added. -- Iain Rogers
Rockets Fired in Kabul, Details Awaited (12:05 a.m.)
At least five rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday morning in the direction of the international airport, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified U.S. official. U.S. missile defense systems intercepted them, the report added.
The rockets were fired from a vehicle and landed in various areas of Kabul, including the airport, said Bilal Karimi, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission.
China Prods U.S. on Afghanistan (9:24 p.m.)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday urged the U.S. to work with the international community to provide economic assistance to the new Afghan government, and stressed the importance of both sides actively guiding the Taliban as the American military prepares to withdraw after two decades. Wang added the war had failed to accomplish its goal of rooting out terrorism in the nation, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in the call with Wang “the importance of the international community holding the Taliban accountable for the public commitments they have made regarding the safe passage and freedom to travel for Afghans and foreign nationals.” -- Philip Glaman
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