Qatar Military Flights to Help With Kabul Evacuations, U.K. Says
(Bloomberg) -- Qatar is hoping to get military flights out of Kabul to allow evacuations from Afghanistan as soon as possible, according to a British diplomat familiar with the matter.
The Gulf nation would offer international partners, including the U.K., a quota of seats to evacuate British nationals, Afghans who worked for the U.K., and others most at risk, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters.
The plan, which is currently being worked on, follows a visit to Doha by U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. He also visited housing for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took Kabul last month.
During a press conference with Raab, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar was talking with the Taliban and working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations at Kabul airport.
Doha has also offered help with high-level engagement with the Taliban, the same diplomat said, adding that both the U.K. and Qatar were minded to engage pragmatically with the changed reality in Afghanistan.
Western governments have said that any engagement with the Afghan regime will be conditional on allowing safe passage out of Kabul and the flow of humanitarian aid, stopping that country from becoming a haven for terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, and respecting human rights and the formation of an inclusive government.
Separately, the diplomat said the U.K. Foreign Office was putting in place a staffing “surge” as a matter of priority until the end of September to help support the Afghanistan response.
The Taliban swept to power last month as western governments halted evacuations and left Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
The U.K. has airlifted around 15,000 people from Kabul but Raab told a foreign affairs committee of members of parliament this week that the number of people left behind is unknown.
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