Dutch FM in Qatar: Kabul embassy relocated to Doha; Afghan gov't must be inclusive
The Dutch embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul is temporarily moving to Qatar. The Taliban has representation in the country and the embassy may be a way to establish contact with them to bring more people out of Afghanistan, caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Sigrid Kaag said in Doha after a meeting with her counterpart from the Qatar government, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
Western countries were overwhelmed by the advance of the Taliban. In mid-August, the extremist Islamic movement took the Afghan capital of Kabul. Last week Thursday, the Netherlands had to stop its evacuation mission. The last Dutch diplomats left Kabul last week when the evacuation mission was halted. Reportedly hundreds of Dutch and Afghans who wanted to leave were left behind.
A representative of the Taliban, which overtook Kabul last month, is established in Qatar. According to the French government, the Taliban are in talks with Qatar and Turkey about reopening Kabul airport. Kaag will travel to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, on Thursday to discuss the situation further.
Qatar has had a great deal of contact with the Taliban. Behind the scenes, the country has played an important role in the evacuation mission in Afghanistan, Kaag said. She thanked al-Thani for the support.
According to Kaag, it is important that the Taliban form an inclusive government because that is important for Afghanistan's stability of the country. Girls must also be able to go to school, women must be allowed to work and the rights of minority groups must be protected.
These conditions are important for the resumption of humanitarian aid, she said. Last year, the Netherlands promised Afghanistan a maximum of 200 million euros in aid for four years. According to the minister, stability in the country is also important for the Netherlands, in part to prevent an exodus of refugees.
Earlier in the day, the minister met German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is also in Qatar for consultations about Afghanistan. She also visited a camp for Afghan refugees.
Kaag will travel to Pakistan on Wednesday. That country also has a great deal of influence in Afghanistan. She will visit the Turkish capital of Ankara on Thursday to discuss developments in Afghanistan. The Turks offered to secure Kabul airport. The Minister will conclude the trip in Slovenia, where European foreign ministers will meet informally. Afghanistan is an important topic on the ministers agenda.
The ministry has said that the embassy will reopen in Kabul as soon as the security situation allows for it. Meanwhile, Afghan-Dutch who were on the evacuation lists, but didn't reach Kabul airport on time to be rescued, are stuck in Afghanistan and unable to reach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one man said to NOS by telephone. He, his wife and five children arrived at the airport just too late to be evacuated by the last Dutch flight last Thursday. The suicide bombings at the airport happened shortly after they were told to leave.
"That suicide bombing at the airport was near where my wife and I had been a few hours before. I saw a photo of injured women my wife had been talking to. So the warning to get out of there was exactly on time," he said to the broadcaster. He and his family are now anxiously awaiting news. "We can only wait and see," he said. "You can't do anything else."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.