The United States said on Friday it would create an Afghanistan interests section under Qatar, creating a more direct way to help American citizens and engage with the Taliban after the embassy in Kabul closes.
This step marks the latest diplomatic victory for Qatar, the wealthy Gulf state that is increasingly positioning itself as the United States’ pivotal ally in Afghanistan.
Blinken signed an agreement with his Qatari counterpart to establish Qatar as the United States’ protecting power in Afghanistan, an agreement in which a third country manages the interests of a country in the absence of diplomatic relations with the host country.
The United States has expressed cautious optimism about dialogue with the Taliban, but has made it clear that reopening the embassy – which would imply recognition – is not on the agenda.
Qatar, home to a major US military base, played an important role in both diplomacy and evacuations as the US ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan.
About half of the 124,000 Western and Afghan Western allies who fled the country in the last few days of the US military engagement transited through Qatar.
“Let me say again how grateful we are for your leadership, your support for Afghanistan, but also to note that our partnership is much broader than that,” Blinken told Foreign Minister Sheikh. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
“Qatar is a crucial partner in promoting regional stability,” he said, also highlighting Qatari aid to the Palestinians.
Working with the Taliban
Blinken said the State Department has contacted any verified U.S. citizens or permanent residents still in Afghanistan with departure offers, arranging for the departure of more than 580 people since the Taliban victory.
But the issue remains politically sensitive and has become the top US priority with the Taliban, although Washington says any future relationship would also depend on Islamists’ response to concerns about the treatment of women and the role of Al Qaeda. .
U.S. Afghanistan pointer Thomas West met Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Islamabad on Thursday, as well as officials from Pakistan, Russia and China, three countries that urged greater cooperation with the activists.
A joint statement called for continued commitment to encourage “moderate and prudent policies”.
“They are in urgent need of help, especially as winter approaches,” Al-Thani said of Afghanistan.
“To abandon Afghanistan would be a big mistake,” he said.
“We believe that engaging with the Taliban, since they are in power at the moment, is very important to us in order to ensure that our facilitation of humanitarian assistance runs smoothly.”
Alignment with Syria
Qatar took on an expanded role in Afghanistan just as Saudi Arabia, backed by other Gulf Arab monarchies including the United Arab Emirates, tried to isolate it due to concerns such as Doha’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates. Iran.
Despite Qatar’s historic support for the engagement, Al-Thani expressed objections to another initiative also opposed by the United States – the normalization of relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan held talks with Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, as part of the momentum to restore relations amid growing conclusion Assad has won after a brutal decade-long civil war that claimed nearly half a million lives.
“We hope that countries will be discouraged from taking further steps with the Syrian regime,” Al-Thani said, while asserting that others had the “sovereign right” to make their own decisions.
“Qatar’s position will remain as it is – we see no serious action from (the) Assad regime showing its commitment to repairing the damage it has caused to its own country and to its own people. “
Blinken said the United States was “concerned” about engagement with Assad.
“And I would just like to urge all of our partners to remember the crimes the Assad regime has committed and continues to commit,” Blinken said.
(This story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)