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India Evacuates Diplomatic Staff From Kabul, Top U.S. Diplomat Denies Fleeing

The U.S. Embassy building in Kabul

India has become the latest major country to evacuate its embassy in Kabul, leaving only a handful of embassies from global and regional powers operating in the Afghan capital as the top U.S. diplomat in Kabul dismissed reports that he had left the country.

The Russian, Chinese, and Pakistani embassies are among the diplomatic missions still operating in Kabul as foreign governments are scrambling to evacuate their nationals, Afghans who worked alongside them, and others considered vulnerable under Taliban rule following the group’s capture of Kabul two days earlier.

Military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians resumed from the city’s international airport on August 17, a day after chaotic scenes at the facility interrupted evacuation operations.

"In view of the prevailing circumstances, it has been decided that our ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will move to India immediately," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arimdam Bagchi tweeted on August 17.

An Indian aircraft carrying diplomatic personnel landed in India's western state of Gujarat during the day, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Ross Wilson dismissed reports that he had left Afghanistan, saying on Twitter: “Contrary to false reports, @USEmbassyKabul staff & I remain in #Kabul working hard to help 1000s of U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans & continuing engagement here."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the number of the Iranian Embassy staff had been drastically reduced but that routine tasks would not be disrupted.

On August 16, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL that its embassy in Afghanistan had reduced its staff but that its activities will continue.

Uzbekistan also announced it had no plans to close its Kabul embassy.

Russia has said it would only partially evacuate its embassy staff.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately with officials in Pakistan, Russia, Britain, the European Union, Turkey, and NATO about Afghanistan, including “the developing situation and our efforts to bring our citizens to safety and assist vulnerable Afghans,” according to the State Department.

Russia has said it would only partially evacuate its embassy staff.

Its ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov is set to hold talks with Taliban representatives on August 17 to discuss the security of Russian citizens and the embassy's personnel.

European Union foreign ministers are also set to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels later on August 17 to discuss evacuation plans and the situation in general in Afghanistan.

With reporting by the BBC, The Indian Express, IRNA, and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
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