Qatar will represent US interests in Afghanistan, says Blinken

Washington: Following the shutdown of the US Embassy in Kabul in August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Qatar has agreed to represent American interests in Afghanistan. According to sources, Blinken made the declaration after meeting with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thanias on Friday.

"Today, we are signing two new accords on Afghanistan that show our growing cooperation." Blinken said, "the first identifies Qatar as the US's protective power in Afghanistan." According to Blinken, Qatar would open a US liaison within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and supervise the security of American diplomatic buildings in the country.

"The second agreement formalises our relationship with Qatar to assist the travel of Afghans with US special immigrant visas, a role it has already played in many cases, and serve as a transit site for eligible Afghans as they finish their application process," says the statement. Roughly half of the over 124,000 persons evacuated from Afghanistan in August transited through Qatar," said the Secretary of State. Qatar, for its part, will "continue to be an instrument of peace and stability in the region," according to Al Thani. "There is still much to be done in Afghanistan," the Minister added, "and Qatar remains dedicated to continuing the required effort alongside the United States and partners around the world."

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