Blinken heads to Qatar on Afghan crisis mission

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Qatar on Sunday for the first time since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, hoping to forge a united front with allies shocked by the instability.

Qatar, a major US military post, has been the departure point for nearly half of the 55,000 civilians airlifted out of Afghanistan by US-led forces following the Taliban’s startlingly quick victory amid a US pullout.

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Blinken will next travel to Ramstein, Germany, on Wednesday for a virtual 20-nation ministerial meeting on the situation with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Ramstein is a temporary home for thousands of Afghans moving to the United States.

Blinken said he will visit Qatar to “show our sincere thanks for all that they’re doing to support the evacuation effort” and meet rescued Afghans as well as US diplomats who had shifted functions from the Kabul embassy’s shuttered embassy to Doha.

He’ll also discuss plans with Qatar and Turkey to reopen Kabul’s dilapidated airport, which is a vital need for flying in desperately needed humanitarian aid and evacuating remaining Afghans.

One of the primary concerns that US allies anticipate tackling in the negotiations in Germany is the Taliban’s vow to continue allowing Afghans to leave if they want to.

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