Qatar to represent US interests in Afghanistan, Blinken says

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Friday that the Gulf nation of Qatar has agreed to represent US interests in Afghanistan following the closure of the US embassy in Kabul in late August.

Blinken said Qatar would serve as a “protective force” for the United States in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, a move that suggests the Biden administration has little confidence it will reopen the embassy in the near future.

Qatar will establish a U.S. interest section within its own embassy in Kabul to provide consular and other services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, Blinken said.

It will also assume responsibility for the security and protection of now vacant US diplomatic facilities in the Afghan capital.

The United States has several agreements on protective power in countries where it does not have diplomatic representation. These include in particular Switzerland in Iran, Sweden in North Korea and the Czech Republic in Syria.

Qatar has been a key player in discussions between the Taliban and the United States for many years.

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It hosted months of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban and has since been critical of the evacuation of U.S. citizens and others from Afghanistan.

Of the more than 124,000 Americans, U.S. legal residents, and vulnerable Afghans who left Afghanistan, about half of them traveled through Qatar aboard U.S. military and Qatar charter aircraft, Blinken said.

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