1st Commercial Flight From Kabul Reaches Doha; US Welcomes Taliban's Cooperation
The first international commercial flight out of Kabul, which flew around 200 foreigners, had landed in Doha, Qatar.
The first international commercial flight out of Kabul after the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August, which carried about 200 foreigners, including Americans, landed in Doha, Qatar on Thursday, 9 September.
Confirming that the flight had safely departed from Kabul, United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the US welcomed Taliban's facilitation of the flight.
This was the first international commercial flight since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover. The officials added that the airport was gradually reopening.
Mutlaq al-Qahtani, Qatar’s special envoy to Afghanistan, said that 90 percent of the Kabul airport is operational, though its reopening is planned gradually, Al Jazeera reported.
This comes after the airport was used to evacuate more than 1,20,000 people, while the US military reached the end of its two-decade occupation.
A source was quoted as saying, "Not all 200 are US citizens. There are American citizens amongst the group departing Kabul to Doha," news agency AFP reported.
Qahtani was quoted as saying, “This is a historic day in the history of Afghanistan as Kabul airport is fully operational. We have been faced by huge challenges… but we can now say that the airport is fit for navigation.”
The Qatar Airways plane had arrived in Kabul earlier on Thursday carrying aid, following which it departed for Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera reported.
Meanwhile, a Qatari technical official said, the airport's radar and landing equipment have been fixed, and communications devices are "working normally now."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told MSNBC's Morning Joe, that the US was "getting closer" to extracting the remaining American citizens who want to leave Afghanistan.
'We Welcome Taliban's Actions in Facilitating This Flight': US State Secretary Blinken
"We are gratified to confirm that a charter flight with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) departed Kabul today. Today’s safe departure is the result of careful and challenging diplomatic engagement," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Thursday.
"This was the result of the Department’s regular and close engagement with our regional partners, particularly with Qatari authorities, who facilitated today’s flight. I emphasized this with Foreign Minister Al-Thani during my travel to Doha this week, and I am grateful for his and his team’s dedicated and effective engagement," he further noted in a press release.
"We also have been in regular – typically daily – contact with Americans remaining in Afghanistan. We have provided them, including those aboard this flight, with specific guidance and instructions. Our message to those who remain in Afghanistan is simple: if you wish to depart Afghanistan, we will help you do so," the press statement said.
"Finally, we welcome the Taliban’s actions in facilitating this flight as part of their commitment to allow those with travel documents who wish to leave to do so."Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State
Blinken further observed that the American team in Doha, as well as Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, had been in regular contact with Taliban officials in the past few days. The US representatives had informed the Taliban that its cooperation would be positively viewed by the international community.
(With inputs from AFP and Al Jazeera.)
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