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German FM Promises Aid To Afghanistan's Neighbors At Start Of Trip To Region

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas promised aid for countries bordering Afghanistan as he set out on a four-day trip to Central Asia and the Middle East with the situation in Afghanistan and further evacuations of at-risk Afghans on the agenda.

Maas called for international coordination in dealing with the Taliban on August 29 as he pledged humanitarian and economic aid to deal with the fallout of the militant group’s takeover of Afghanistan.

"It is in our own interest to prevent the collapse in Afghanistan from destabilizing the entire region," Maas said.

The first stop on Maas’s tour is NATO ally Turkey, which has joined several EU countries in expressing concern about a new wave of uncontrolled migration stemming from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover.

Turkey, alongside its close partner Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office, has been in talks with the new rulers in Kabul about providing technical assistance to keep the capital’s airport running once U.S.-led international forces exit Afghanistan by an August 31 deadline.

Maas set off just three days after the end of the Bundeswehr evacuation operation in which the air force flew more than 5,300 people from at least 45 countries out of Kabul.

There are still more than 10,000 people on the German Foreign Office's departure lists, including 300 Germans.

"Our work continues until everyone for whom we are responsible in Afghanistan is safe," Maas said on August 26 as the German military halted its airlift out of Kabul.

With the U.S.-led evacuation mission entering its final phase, nearly all NATO countries have airlifted their citizens out of Kabul, but little time is left to bring thousands of at-risk Afghans and others who worked with international forces to safety.

Despite the dwindling opportunity to evacuate more Afghans, Germany and other European countries are seeking alternative ways to bring those who need protection out of the country.

The Central Asian leg of the diplomat’s travels will take him to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He will also visit Pakistan.

Afghanistan's three neighboring countries play an important role in plans to bring people to safety by land, if flights are not possible, after their immigration procedures are completed.

The foreign minister will then travel to Qatar, where he is expected to talk with Taliban officials continuing evacuation flights from Kabul once U.S. forces fully withdrawal from the country.

With reporting by Deutschlandfunk and RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland
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