Afghanistan: Taliban to let 200 Americans leave as world discusses action on takeover

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The Taliban have agreed to let 200 American civilians and third-country nationals in Afghanistan leave on chartered flights, a US official has said.

Hundreds of non-Afghans were unable to leave Kabul before the August 31 deadline for US troops to leave the country.

The Taliban were pressed to allow the departures by US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, said the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The departures were expected on Thursday. The official could not say whether these Americans and third country nationals were among people stranded for days in Mazar-i-Sharif because their private charters have not been allowed to depart.

Meanwhile, the US has not told the Taliban it will validate their new government in Afghanistan, the White House said, after the militant group unveiled its new administration.

“This is a caretaker Cabinet,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

“No one in this administration, not the President nor anyone on the national security team, would suggest that the Taliban are respected and valued members of the global community.

“They have not earned that in any way, and we’ve never assessed that.”

Following talks with allies on how to present a united front to the hardline new government in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Blinken said the Taliban would have to earn legitimacy from the world.

“The Taliban seek international legitimacy. Any legitimacy – any support – will have to be earned,” Mr Blinken told reporters at the US airbase in Ramstein, Germany.

A senior State Department official said all countries were broadly on the same page on dealing with the Taliban caretaker government – including Pakistan, historically the insurgents’ ally.

“Pakistan was there. They talked about their unique role, from their perspective … they certainly said that we’re in a position where we have to engage to some degree,” the official told reporters on Mr Blinken’s plane.

“But nothing along the lines of, we think we have to recognise or legitimise the government in the near term,” he said.

Saudi Arabia said it hopes the caretaker government in Afghanistan will help it to achieve stability and overcome violence and extremism, the kingdom’s foreign minister said.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan also affirmed Saudi support for “the choices the Afghan people make regarding the future of their country, away from external interference”, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

Riyadh hopes the formation of the caretaker administration will be “a step in the right direction towards achieving security and stability, rejecting violence and extremism, building a bright future in line with these aspirations”, he said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted the international community expected the Taliban to uphold human rights, including those of women, grant access to humanitarian aid and allow those wishing to leave the country to do so.

Mr Maas said he believed Wednesday’s talks were “the starting point for international co-ordination” on how to deal with the Taliban.

However, the European Union voiced disapproval of the Taliban’s provisional government in Afghanistan saying they had not kept a promise to include women and other religious groups.

“It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks,” said Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy service.

“Such inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government, and as a result of negotiations,” he said.

Other countries have also reacted cautiously to the announcement of the caretaker government.

The National

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