98 countries pledge to accept Afghans after US military departs

The United States and 97 other countries said Sunday that they would continue to take in people fleeing Afghanistan after the US military departs this week and had secured an agreement with the Taliban to allow safe passage for those who are leaving.

>> Lara JakesThe New York Times
Published : 30 August 2021, 09:20 AM
Updated : 30 August 2021, 09:20 AM

The Taliban’s chief negotiator, Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, had announced Friday that the group would not stop people from departing, no matter their nationality or whether they had worked for the United States during the 20-year war.

The joint statement released Sunday on behalf of more than half of the world’s governments and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said they had “received assurances from the Taliban” that people with travel documents showing they were clear to enter any of those countries could safely depart.

The countries also pledged to “continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans” and cited a “clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban” of their safe passage.

“We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding,” the statement said.

Notably missing from the statement were Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council that have pledged to help the Taliban rebuild Afghanistan.

The statement came on the same day Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the United States was unlikely to keep diplomats in Afghanistan after the US military departs on Tuesday. Officials said it was expected that the US mission to Afghanistan would open a diplomatic mission in a country elsewhere in the region, in part to continue helping the surge of expected refugees obtain necessary departure documents.

The statement did not warn of any consequences should the Taliban renege on the agreement, although a senior State Department official said it was meant to convey an implicit message about incentives — namely, foreign aid to the government — that the international community would use to enforce it.

The chief US envoy to Taliban peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, tweeted Saturday that the Taliban’s assurances were “positive” and that “we, our allies, and the international community will hold them to these commitments.”

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