Australia says it will close its embassy in Afghanistan this week, citing “an increasingly uncertain security environment” as international troops exit the war-torn country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a May 25 statement that the embassy in Kabul would close on May 28 and that Australian diplomats plan to visit Afghanistan regularly from a post elsewhere in the region.
The United States has begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and is expected fully exit by September 11. Australia’s 80 troops are also leaving the country, along with U.S.-led NATO forces.
The pullout of foreign troops after two decades has raised concerns of over the fate of the government in Kabul in the face of continued violence by Taliban militants that control large swaths of the country.
The Australian government "has been advised that security arrangements could not be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence," Morrison said.
The prime minister said he expected the embassy closure to be "temporary" and that "we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances permit."
The Afghan Foreign Ministry said it hoped Canberra would review its decision, adding it was committed to offering security to diplomatic missions.
A Taliban spokesman was quoted as saying the insurgents would "provide a safe environment" to foreign diplomats and staff of humanitarian organizations.
"The only incentive for foreign embassies to remain is the humanitarian work that they are involved in, but if their personnel are endangered then there is no point in remaining here," AFP cited a foreign defense official based in Kabul as saying.
"Several other embassies will follow Australia in the coming weeks or months."