US cooperating with Qatar, Turkey to reopen Kabul airport

US cooperating with Qatar, Turkey to reopen Kabul airport after withdrawal
2 min read
01 September, 2021
Jen Psaki, the White House's press secretary, spoke with reporters during a Tuesday briefing, calling Doha and Ankara 'important partners' in the push to evacuate Afghanistan.
Jen Psaki said '[t]his is a priority' for Antony Blinken, the US' most senior diplomat [Drew Angerer/Getty]

The US is cooperating with Qatar and Turkey on restarting flights from Kabul airport, to allow people to leave Afghanistan and aid to come in.

Jen Psaki, the White House's press secretary, spoke with reporters during a Tuesday briefing, calling Doha and Ankara "important partners" in the push to secure the airport.

"This is a priority the Secretary of State [Antony Blinken] will be leading. They'll continue to provide updates," she said.

"We're hoping to make progress in the coming days."

Psaki said the US "would work through programmes like the World Food Programme and others to distribute" aid brought into Afghanistan via the airport.

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The US and its NATO allies have pulled out of Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation, including from Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The allies ran an evacuation effort from the airport lasting over the two weeks leading up to Tuesday when the last American soldier left Kabul.

It followed the Taliban's sweeping takeover of Afghanistan last month.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Doha was working to get all nationalities seeking to leave Afghanistan out of the country.

"The importance of freedom of movement and ensuring safe passage when Kabul Airport resumes operations," The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

"Those who want to enter and exit from Afghanistan will face no challenges," he added.

Psaki also insisted on Tuesday that the US "ha[s] enormous leverage over the Taliban, including access to the global marketplace", in an apparent reference to sanctions against the Islamist group.

"In order to gain access to the global marketplace, we're going to be watching closely, as will the global community," Psaki warned.

She mentioned the United Nations Security Council's adoption of a resolution on Afghanistan on Monday urging those wishing to quit the country to be permitted to do so safely by the Taliban.

"Nearly half of the countries in the world have also signed [onto] a statement making clear that is the expectation," Psaki added.

When asked about possible US sanctions on the Taliban, she said: "It's going to be based on what their behaviour is."

This includes women's and human rights, which the militants failed to respect the last time they were in power.