US hails Qatar for help in Kabul exit

Middle East Desk

DOHA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin praised Doha’s support in Kabul evacuation in meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other top Qatari officials.
Blinken and Austin are the most senior US officials to visit the Gulf since the Taliban’s lightning seizure of Afghanistan in August.
Qatar, which hosts a major US airbase, has been the gateway for 58,000 people airlifted out of Afghanistan, nearly half the total number evacuated by US-led forces after the Taliban’s takeover, Blinken said on Tuesday.
In a meeting with Qatar’s emir, Blinken thanked the Gulf state ruler for “Qatar’s extraordinary support in facilitating the safe transit of US citizens, our partners, and other Afghans at risk” during the US’s chaotic military pullout from Afghanistan, according to a Department of State readout.
On Tuesday, Blinken and Austin met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and defence chief Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah. Blinken said Washington would continue to work with Qatar and other regional partners to evacuate US citizens and vulnerable Afghans from Afghanistan.
“Many countries have stepped up to help the evacuation and relocation efforts in Afghanistan, but no country has done more than Qatar,” Blinken said in a joint news conference with Austin and their Qatari counterparts on Tuesday. “The strongest relationship that we and Qatar have built through this evacuation and relocation effort I know is going to pay continued dividends across these so many other key areas in the months and years ahead,” Blinken said.