Qatar won’t take ‘responsibility’ for Kabul airport without Taliban agreement
Qatar warned Tuesday it would not take responsibility for Kabul airport without “clear” agreements with all involved, including the Taliban, about its operations.
Doha has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month’s withdrawal of US forces, helping evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers and supporting operations at Kabul airport.
“We need to make sure that everything is addressed very clearly otherwise… we are not able to take any responsibility of the airport (if) all these things are not addressed,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a press briefing.
“Right now the status is still (under) negotiation because we need to have an agreement that’s clear for everyone for all the parties and who is going to take care of the technical (side), who’s going to take care of the security aspects.
“There is a possibility for collaboration with other countries if needed, but until now the discussion is only among us and Turkey and the Taliban.”
Since the US pullout, Qatar Airways planes have made several trips to Kabul, flying in aid and Doha’s representatives and ferrying out foreign passport holders.
A Pakistan International Airlines jet landed in Kabul Monday, marking the first international commercial flight since the US withdrawal.
It then made a return flight to Islamabad with about 70 people on board — mostly Afghans who were relatives of staffers with international organisations, according to airport ground staff.
Kabul’s international airport was ransacked after US-led forces finished a chaotic evacuation of more than 120,000 people, and the Taliban have since scrambled to resume operations with technical assistance from Qatar and other nations.
Qatar Airways operated several charter flights out of Kabul last week, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who missed out on the evacuation.
An Afghan airline resumed domestic services on September 3.
But the resumption of regular commercial flights will be a key test for the Taliban, who have repeatedly promised to allow Afghans with the right documents to leave the country freely.
The United States pulled its final troops out of Afghanistan on August 30, ending its longest war just ahead of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that prompted its invasion.