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Germany Grants 2,400 Visas To Afghan Employees And Their Families

German soldiers line up for a final roll call after returning from Afghanistan at the airfield in Wunstorf, Germany, on June 30.

Germany has granted 2,400 visas so far to Afghan employees who assisted German forces in Afghanistan and are now seeking protection as the Taliban takes control of much of the country, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Berlin.

The last contingent of German soldiers left Afghanistan on June 29, as international forces withdraw from the country after a deployment that lasted nearly 20 years. Germany had the second-largest foreign contingent in Afghanistan after the United States.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in April that Germany had a "deep obligation" not to leave behind unprotected locals who helped German forces at risk to themselves.

Before the troops' withdrawal, 446 local employees and their relatives -- a total of 2,250 people -- were given travel documents, Defense Ministry spokesman David Helmbold said on July 5. At that point, "a relatively small number" of applications remained open, he added.

Helmbold said that not all of those who received the travel documents wanted to leave Afghanistan immediately.

"There were many local assistants who said they wished to stay in Afghanistan for as long as possible, but would like to have the option to leave if the security situation deteriorates," he told reporters.

The U.S. military last week vacated its biggest airfield in Afghanistan, advancing a final withdrawal that Washington said will be completed by the end of August.

U.S. media reported that Washington is asking Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to temporarily house some 9,000 Afghans who worked with the U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan, pending approval of their permanent residency visas to be relocated to the United States or European allies for their safety.

Based on reporting by dpa and AP