US, others say Taliban promised to let Afghans leave — as it happened | News | DW | 29.08.2021

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US, others say Taliban promised to let Afghans leave — as it happened

The Taliban gave "assurances" that all Afghan nationals will be allowed to leave the country if they have travel authorization from abroad, the US and its allies said in a joint statement.

A US Force Airman guides evacuees towards a plane at Kabul airport

The US is winding down its evacuation effort, but has reason to believe the Taliban would allow their helpers to leave

  • Taliban will let all foreigners and locals with travel authorization leave
  • Rocket attack hits home near airport
  • US military hits 'Islamic State' suicide bombers
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas starts five-country Afghanistan mission

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest coverage on Afghanistan please see here.

Countries to hold virtual meeting 

Foreign ministers from several countries will meet virtually on Monday to discuss their plans for Afghanistan, the US State Department has announced. 

Representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, Turkey, Qatar, the European Union and NATO are set to participate, the State Department said.

"The participants will discuss an aligned approach for the days and weeks ahead," the statement said.

The statement also said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would speak after the meeting to give an update on the US' recent efforts in Afghanistan.

German chancellor candidates on Afghanistan 

In a televised debate, the three candidates to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany's election touched on events in Afghanistan. 

Armin Laschet for Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) described what happened as "a disaster for the West, also a disaster for the German government" and renewed a call for a "national security council'' to improve decision-making in
Germany.

Annalena Baerbock for the environmentalist Greens accused the government of "ducking away'' from decisions on assisting endangered Afghans out of the country.

Olaf Scholz for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) said the Left Party's refusal to support the military evacuation mission from Kabul "greatly saddened'' him and insisted that any government he leads must have "a clear commitment to NATO.''

France in talks with Taliban

President Emmanuel Macron Sunday said discussions France is having with the Taliban over evacuations from Afghanistan do not indicate recognition of the group as the country's new rulers, saying it needed to fulfil conditions on human rights and rejecting terror.

"We have operations to carry out in Afghanistan, the evacuations. The Taliban are the ones in control... we have to have these discussions from a practical point of view. This does not mean there will be recognition," Macron told France's TF1 television during a visit to Iraq.

"We have set conditions," said Macron, outlining three areas. He said the Tailban needed to respect humanitarian law by allowing those who qualify for asylum to leave the country, and also take a "very clear line" against all terror movements.

Macron said the third area was human rights and "in particularly respect for the dignity of Afghan women."

Afghans want normal life to resume

Afghan official says children killed in US drone strike

Following the drone strike which the US said killed IS suicide bombers, an Afghan official told the AP news agency that three children were killed in the blast.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns. 

It comes after the US said it was "assessing the possibilities" of having killed or injured civilians in the airstrike.

US Military officials said the vehicle was carrying explosives and that the initial strike set off secondary explosions.

American officials said the bombers planned to attack Kabul’s international airport.

Witnesses to the drone strike said it targeted two cars parked in a residential building near the airport, killing and wounding several civilians, AP reported.

The strike came two days before the US  is set to conclude a two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops.

Allied statement: Taliban agree to let Afghans leave

A joint statement from Britain, the United States and many other countries has said that the Taliban will allow all foreign nationals and locals with authorization from another country to leave.

"We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country," the countries, which also included Australia, Japan, France, Spain and others, said.

Ambassador, embassy staff, return on final French mission

A military aircraft has brought home French special forces, embassy staff in Kabul and France's ambassador, along with the last group of Afghan refugees able to make the final evacuation.

Defense Minister Florence Parly and Prime Minister Jean Castex were present to welcome the arrival at the Villacoulay military airport, just outside Paris, late afternoon Sunday.

The plane flew in from Abu Dhabi, where a French base served as a transit point for the 2,834 people evacuated from Afghanistan since August 17. The large majority travelling on Sunday along with Ambassador David Martinon were Afghans.

Afghan evacuees in Doha face uncertainty

Spokesman: Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada in Afghanistan

The Taliban's supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada — who has never made a public appearance — is in Afghanistan, in the city of Kandahar, deputy spokesman for the militants, Bilal Karimi, said Sunday.

"I can confirm that he is in Kandahar. He will soon appear in public," Karimi told news agency AFP. "He will soon appear in public."

Turkey: Coping with another migrant wave is 'out of the question'

Turkey said it cannot take the burden of a new migrant wave from Afghanistan.

"As Turkey, we have sufficiently carried out our moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding migration," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, speaking in a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas. "It is out of the question for us to take an additional refugee burden."

Heiko Maas 'grateful Turkey will continue to run the airport'

Turkey currently hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees as part of a 2016 deal with the European Union.

Meanwhile, Maas tweeted his appreciation of the help Turkey has been offering at Kabul airport.

China, US discuss Afghanistan crisis

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Afghanistan and US-China relations over the phone on Sunday, Chinese state media reported.

Wang said it is essential for all sides to engage with the Taliban and "positively guide" them.

Wang said the US should work alongside the international community to provide economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

"While respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, the US should take concrete action to help Afghanistan fight terrorism and stop violence, rather than playing double standards or fighting terrorism selectively," Wang was quoted as telling Blinken on a call that Chinese state television said was made at the invitation of Washington.

On relations between the two world's largest economies, Wang said "China will consider how to engage with the US side based on the US attitude towards China."

Franz Marty: Terror plots 'nothing new to Kabul'

Militant fire across border kills two Pakistan soldiers

Militant fire from across the border in Afghanistan killed two Pakistani soldiers on Sunday, the army confirmed.

The army said it responded by killing two or three attackers.

The incident in Pakistan's Bajaur district is the first of its kind since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan.

US military hits 'Islamic State' suicide bombers

US officials confirmed a drone strike against a vehicle threatening the Kabul airport. 

"US military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Hamid Karzai International airport, said Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM).

General view of a residence house destroyed after a rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan

A house destroyed by a rocket attack in Kabul

"Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material," he said, adding there were "no indications at this time" of civilian casualties.

Other reports indicated the vehicle carried multiple suicide bombers.

British ex-marine leaves Kabul with pets but no local staff

Paul "Pen" Farthing, an ex-British marine who founded the Nowzad animal rescue charity in Afghanistan 15 years ago, has left Kabul with his animals but none of his local support staff.

A privately funded charter brought Farthing to London while his support staff and their dependents remain behind in Kabul. Farthing and the support staff along with their families were eligible for evacuation as part of the UK's airlift but were not rescued from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

"We've just used a lot of troops to bring in 200 dogs. Meanwhile my interpreter's family is likely to be killed,'' Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat who served with the British Army in Afghanistan told LBC radio.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Farthing's demands and his social media supporters had "taken up too much time'' of senior commanders and military staff.

Approximately 300 US citizens remain in Kabul

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN there are 300 or fewer US citizens remaining in Kabul at present who wish to leave. 

"After August 31, we believe we have substantial leverage to allow safe passage for US citizens, permanent residents and Afghan allies," Sullivan said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave ABC News the same figure regarding the remaining US nationals.

Western countries push to complete Afghan evacuation

Blast heard near airport — witnesses

Early reports indicate a new blast in the Afghan capital on Sunday, just days after a suicide attack at Kabul airport's Abbey Gate which was claimed by the "Islamic State."

Witnesses cited by the Reuters news agency say the blast appears to have been a rocket attack. AP, citing an Afghan police chief, reports the rocket hit northwest of the airport and killed a child.

The Pentagon and Biden's national security team both warned of an imminent attack prior to the incident.

Biden to receive bodies, meet families of killed service members

US President Joe Biden is traveling to Dover Air Force Base in his home state of Delaware to receive the bodies of the service members killed in Thursday's suicide attacks at the Kabul airport.

Biden and First Lady Jill are scheduled to meet the families of the service members then witness the transfer of the troops' remains.

Thursday's bombing outside the gates of Kabul airport claimed the lives of 13 US service personnel including 11 marines, one sailor and one army staff sergeant. Two women are among the marines killed.

The Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack in a video message. The US military launched a retaliatory drone strike against the group.

What do we know about the Afghan "Islamic State" affiliate?

Taliban to allow for safe passage of US residents, allies

A top Taliban officials has said privately that the group will allow for the safe passage of Americans, US residents and Afghan allies after Aug. 31, according to Reuters.

The White House has also acknowledged those comments. "The Taliban have both communicated privately and publicly that they will allow for safe passage," said Jake Sullivan, US President Joe Biden's national security adviser, in a CBS TV interview set to be broadcast on Sunday.

"After August 31st, we will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident," he added. "And yes, we will ensure the safe passage of those Afghans who helped us to continue coming out after the 31st of August."

Heiko Maas offers aid to neighboring countries

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued a statement ahead of his trip to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar, touting Germany's commitment to tackling the situation in Afghanistan. 

"I am traveling to the region today to make it clear: Germany's commitment does not end with the conclusion of the military evacuation mission," he said. 

He also warned of a resurgence in international terrorism. "The attacks at Kabul airport show us how great the danger is that international terrorism will regain strength. A power-political vacuum has been created, into which ISIS-K and other terrorists are now striving with frightening speed."

Maas additionally offered aid to countries surrounding Afghanistan, "to help them cope with the humanitarian and economic consequences."

"It's in our own interest to prevent the collapse in Afghanistan from destabilizing the entire region," he added.

Germany negotiates civilian evacuation operations: Maas

Seven Afghans detained in Germany

Seven Afghans were detained after being evacuated to Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

One is in custody, two are still in the care of the police at the airport. "Three had forged documents with them and four had already been deported from Germany to Afghanistan as criminals. These were serious crimes," Seehofer said.

Germany's defense minister offers condolences for Kabul attack victims

Educators call on Taliban to maintain system

Former university officials and lecturers have called on the Taliban to maintain and upgrade the country's education system instead of creating a new one. 

At a conference on higher education, held by the Taliban, former minister of higher education Abas Basir said that starting over would be a mistake made by previous governments. 

"Let's not reject everything, starting a new system, we should work more on what we already have," said Basir. 

Taliban caretaker higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani criticized the current education system founded by the international community, saying that there was not enough emphasis placed on religious education. 

"The world tried to take religion out of scientific education, which harmed the people,'' Haqqani said. He added that "every item against Islam in the educational system will be removed.''

Report: Only 100 Afghan workers evacuated to Germany

A report in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper says out of the 4,500 people who were evacuated to Germany by the middle of last week, just 101 of them were local Afghan employees. 

Together with their families, they made up little more than a tenth of the total, the newspaper said, citing Interior Ministry figures.

The Foreign Ministry, however, says around 5,300 people have been brought to safety from Kabul, including 530 Germans.

The German government has come under massive criticism for not flying out Afghan military aides before the Taliban took power. 

On Thursday, the Bundeswehr completed its evacuation flights from Kabul.

Did the NATO mission in Afghanistan fail?

Seehofer tries to ally concerns about new migrant influx

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has vowed to tighten border controls in the event of new large-scale refugee movements from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

"Not everyone who wants to enter our country will be allowed to enter," Seehofer said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“We will do everything we can to prevent the uncontrolled influx of migrants to Europe.”

Seehofer added that refugee movements from Afghanistan and other countries in the region, such as Syria and Iraq, are being monitored very closely.

France, UK to call for Kabul 'safe zone'

France and Britain will on Monday call on the United Nations to work for the creation of a "safe zone" in the Afghan capital Kabul to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said in comments published in the Journal du Dimanche

"This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency."

Such a safe zone would allow the international community "to maintain pressure on the Taliban," who are now in power in Afghanistan, he added. 

Bundestag backs Afghanistan rescue efforts

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France, Britain, the US, Russia and China, are set to discuss the situation in Afghanistan on Monday. 

France and Britain will present a draft resolution which "aims to define, under UN control, a 'safe zone' in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue," Macron said.

Journalist Franz Marty told DW, however, the draft is "only a vague plan or proposal, and that the Taliban would likely be opposed to such a plan. 

"At some point, there even seemed to be discussions that the UN dramatically reduces its presence here in Afghanistan," said Marty. "So going from this to establishing a safe zone would be like a huge jump. The Taliban themselves would probably be opposed."

Kabul airport bombing: Counterterrorism expert Jason Killmeyer speaks to DW

UK PM praises evacuation efforts

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a statement praising evacuation efforts and the country's initiative to take in several Afghan refugees. 

"All remaining soldiers, diplomats and civil servants have now left," he said. "This country has now processed, vetted and airlifted more than 15,000 people to safety in less than two weeks."

Paralympic athletes arrive in Tokyo

Afghanistan's two Paralympic athletes made an "extremely emotional" arrival at the Tokyo Paralympic Village, Games chiefs said on Sunday. That comes after a top-secret flight from Paris following their evacuation from Kabul.

Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived in Japan to compete at the Games, after leaving Afghanistan last weekend. 

"Both athletes are here in Tokyo to fulfill their dreams, sending out a very strong message of hope to many others around the world," said International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence.

Khudadadi and Rasouli were welcomed to the athletes' village on Saturday night by IPC chief Andrew Parsons and IPC Athletes' Council chairperson Chelsey Gotell, as well as the Afghan team's chef de mission Arian Sadiqi.

"As you can imagine, the meeting was extremely emotional," said Spence. "There were lots of tears from everyone in the room. It really was a remarkable meeting."

Japan Paralympians Tokio Zakia Khudadadi und Hossain Rasouli

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrive at Haneda airport in Tokyo on Saturday

German foreign minister starts Afghanistan mission

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is starting a four-day trip to five countries, all of which have a role in continued efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan. He will begin in Turkey on Sunday, then make his way to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Qatar. 

Qatar's capital, Doha, is home to a political office of the Taliban, which functions as a foreign ministry for the group. The trip comes three days after the end of the Bundeswehr evacuation operation, in which the air force flew 5,347 people out of Kabul. 

"The military evacuation is now over. But our work continues, and will continue until everyone for whom we have responsibility in Afghanistan is safe," Maas said on Thursday.

Taliban aims for 'swift' handover of Kabul airport

The Taliban and the departing US forces are aiming for a swift handover of Kabul airport, a Taliban official told Reuters.

"We are waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport," he said. The official added that the militants had a team of technical experts and engineers ready to complete the takeover. 

Meanwhile, a Western security official told Reuters that just over 1,000 civilians remain at the airport to be flown out before troops fully withdraw. However, a date and time for the end of the operation have yet to be decided, they said. 

US President Joe Biden has said he will stick by his Tuesday deadline to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.

Ali Latifi: Taliban condemns US drone strikes

US urges citizens to leave Kabul airport

The US Embassy in Kabul has urged all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport to leave the area immediately due to a "specific, credible threat." 

Americans are asked to avoid traveling to the airport. 

The Australian government also issued a similar warning to avoid travel to the airport.

UK, France to request UN safe zone in Kabul

The UK and France will call for a safe zone in Kabul during an emergency UN meeting on Monday.

"Our resolution proposal aims to define a safe zone in Kabul, under UN control, which would allow humanitarian operations to continue," French President Emmanuel Macron told the Le Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper.

UK says its final military flight left Kabul

Britain's Defense Ministry said the last flight carrying UK army personnel has left Kabul, ending the evacuation mission. 

Defense Minister Ben Wallace said 15,000 people have been evacuated in the last two weeks. ​​​​​​

"We should be proud of our armed forces, welcoming to those coming for a better life, and… sad for those left behind," Wallace said on Twitter. 

"Our obligation to them does not end with our leaving," he added. 

With the UK's 20-year mission coming to an end, Wallace said that there would be "many lessons to learn," but there were also "endless examples of amazing achievements." 

mv, jsi, wd, ar/mm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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