Albania and Kosovo have accepted a U.S. request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States, the two Balkan countries said.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama Rama said U.S. President Joe Biden's administration had asked fellow NATO member Albania to assess whether it could serve as a transit country for a number of Afghan refugees whose final destination is the United States.
"We will not say 'No', not just because our great allies ask us to, but because we are Albania," Rama said on Facebook.
Sources had told Reuters that Biden's administration had held discussions with such countries as Kosovo and Albania about protecting U.S.-affiliated Afghans from Taliban reprisals until they completed the process of approval of their U.S. visas.
In Pristina, Luan Dalipi, chief of staff of Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, confirmed the information for RFE/RL.
"Since mid-July, we have been in constant communication and cooperation with U.S. state and military authorities on this painful and sensitive issue. There is a lot of logistical and technical, security, and social work that we are handling with care. The U.S. is our main ally and our strategic partner. Everything will end well," Dalipi said.
Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani said the government had been in contact with the U.S. authorities about housing Afghan refugees since July 16.
"Without any hesitation and...conditioning I gave my consent to that humanitarian operation," Osmani said on her Facebook account.
Osmani said Afghan refugees would be vetted by the U.S. security authorities, and added they would stay in Kosovo until their documentation for U.S. immigration visas was arranged.
Hundreds of U.S. troops are still stationed in Kosovo as peacekeepers more than two decades after the 1998-99 war with the then-Yugoslav security forces.
"Nobody better than us knows what it means to be expelled and to leave by force from where you grew up, to separate from your loved ones, to be forced to flee to save your own life," Osmani said.