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Countries Urged To Cooperate In Getting Afghans Out After Airlift Ends

A military aircraft takes off from the military airport in Kabul on August 27.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged countries that took part in the airlift in Afghanistan to work together to provide safe passage for those eligible to leave.

Raab joined the foreign ministers of several countries in a virtual meeting on August 30 organized by the U.S. State Department to discuss their next steps in Afghanistan as an airlift evacuation winds down.

Raab also said Afghanistan's Taliban leadership should be judged on its actions and on whether people are allowed to leave, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

A Foreign Office official said earlier that Britain was a "long way" from offering diplomatic recognition to the Taliban.

The State Department said the virtual meeting was to "discuss an aligned approach for the days and weeks ahead." In addition to Britain, representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar, the European Union, and NATO were to participate.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to speak after the meeting to give an update on recent U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials said earlier on August 30 that more than 122,000 people had been flown out of Kabul's airport since the evacuation began in late July. The vast majority have been flown out since the Taliban took over the government two weeks ago.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said some 6,000 Americans had been evacuated from Afghanistan so far. The Biden administration is still trying to determine how many Americans want to leave ahead of the August 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops.

U.S. officials have said the State Department would continue efforts to get people out even after the military presence ends.

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One of the countries that has played a key role in the airlift is Qatar. Many of the U.S. military's flights in the rushed evacuation used the U.S. military base in Qatar as a transit stop.

Once the U.S. military leaves Kabul, Qatar is expected to provide civilian technical assistance to the Taliban at Kabul's international airport.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry has been taking part in negotiations about the operations of the Kabul airport with Afghan and international parties, mainly the United States and Turkey.

In addition, UN agencies are asking Qatar for help and support in delivering aid to Afghanistan.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote later on August 30 on a resolution requiring the Taliban to honor their commitment to let people freely leave Afghanistan, but the measure won't require a safe zone as proposed earlier by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron had raised the idea of a safe zone over the weekend and said France would propose it in a resolution.

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Separately, a State Department statement on August 30 addressed the situation regarding Islamic State (IS), which has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that last week killed scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. troops at a perimeter gate to the Kabul airport.

The statement said an existing coalition to defeat the IS group and its partners "continue to stand shoulder to shoulder" to defeat IS, which it said "remains a determined enemy."

It will use the coalition's expertise to counter the global branches of IS, including Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), to identify and bring their members to justice.

"We will draw on all elements of national power -- military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, law enforcement -- to ensure the defeat of this brutal terrorist organization," the statement said.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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