Dutch Foreign Min. to press more Afghan evacuations in visit to Pakistan, Qatar
Caretaker Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Affairs will visit various countries around Afghanistan this week as part of an international diplomatic offensive to help people who couldn't be evacuated from the Taliban-controlled country, get out after all. Along with Germany, the United Kingdom and France, the Netherlands is increasing pressure on "several countries in the region" to let in people who manage to get out of Afghanistan, sources told newspaper AD.
A spokesperson for Kaag would not tell the newspaper which countries she will be visiting and who she will speak to. But according to the newspaper's sources, the Dutch Minister will be visiting Pakistan, Turkey and Qatar.
Countries who have contact with the Taliban are talking with the regime through the Taliban office in the Qatari capital of Doha, though is not known whether Kaag will attempt to speak with the Taliban while in Qatar. Turkey will likely play a major role in reopening the airport in Kabul - the Taliban asked Turkey for technical assistance and the Turks said they were willing. And Pakistan is a logistical destination - Defense military flights from Kabul these past weeks landed at the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, some 500 kilometers away.
"Behind the scenes, everything is being done to get people out," a source said to AD. The cabinet is considering all options, including evacuations by land. While visiting the countries in the region, Kaag is expected to negotiate things like granting entry and visas to people who are still on the Dutch evacuation list and show up at the border.
Prime Minster Mark Rutte is also "continuously in contact with government leaders" about Afghanistan, the newspaper's sources said. He will visit French president Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, and spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the weekend. The goal is to work together to establish "representation in one way or another" in Kabul as soon as possible.
Over the past weeks, the Netherlands evacuated 2,500 people from Afghanistan, 1,600 of whom had the Netherlands as a final destination. The others flew to other countries from Schiphol. Evacuation flights stopped on Thursday, based on instructions from the United States military, who was in charge of securing the airport in Kabul.
Late last week, suicide bombers attacked the airport in Kabul, taking the lives of at least 169 Afghans and 13 American soldiers. Terrorist organization IS-K claimed the attack.
On Monday, multiple missiles were fired at the airport, NOS reports. An American drone strike stopped at least some of the missiles from hitting, a US official told news agency Reuters, though it is not yet clear if all the missiles were shot down. A witness told news agency AP that three explosions were heard.