German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says Uzbekistan is willing to open its borders to people fleeing from Taliban rule in Afghanistan who are on a German list of those in need of being evacuated from the war-torn country.
Speaking during a four-day trip to Central Asia, Pakistan, and the Middle East, Maas said on August 30 that the situation surrounding further evacuations of German citizens, local Afghan staff, and at-risk groups such as human rights activists and journalists in Afghanistan was the focus of his agenda.
Germany has said it plans to take in 40,000 people from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover more than two weeks ago -- either by plane if Kabul airport can be kept open after the U.S. pullout planned for August 31 or overland to neighboring countries.
"Uzbekistan is prepared to help us with this group of people," Maas told journalists in the Uzbek capital.
From Uzbekistan, Maas is set to travel to Tajikistan for talks in Dushanbe later on August 30. The next day, he will have meetings in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
During a stop in Turkey on August 29, Maas promised economic and humanitarian assistance to countries sharing land borders with Afghanistan to deal with the fallout of the hard-line Islamist group’s takeover of the country.
The German minister will also visit Qatar, where he is expected to talk with Taliban officials on continuing evacuation flights from Kabul once U.S. forces fully withdraw from the country.
Qatar has played an outsized role in U.S.-led efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan.
The international airlift has taken more than 117,000 foreigners and Afghans out of Kabul airport. Qatar has said that more than 43,000 have passed through the tiny Persian Gulf nation.
In Tashkent, Maas also said that Russia and China need to be involved in talks on the future of Afghanistan, including on plans for the evacuation of Afghans.
He said that an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on August 30 would be an indication of whether Moscow and Beijing are willing to cooperate.
There are efforts under way "to bring all important international partners to the table, and so it will be important that Russia and China are also there," Maas said.
Unlike the three other permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, France, and the United States -- Russia and China have kept their embassies in Kabul open.