US defence, state secretaries to tour, 'thank' allies for Afghanistan airlift help

US defence, state secretaries to tour, 'thank' allies for Afghanistan airlift help
The US defence and state secretaries will travel to thank foreign governments overseas for their help in the massive US-led airlift from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
2 min read
04 September, 2021
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait next week [Getty]

The US defence and state secretaries will travel to thank governments overseas for their help in the massive US-led airlift from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait next week, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Austin planned to leave on Sunday and meet with regional officials as well as US service members and other government staff.

"Throughout his trip, Secretary Austin will meet with regional partners and thank them for their cooperation with the United States as we evacuated Americans, Afghans and citizens from other nations from Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The United States' longest war culminated with a hastily organized airlift that left thousands of US-allied Afghans behind and was punctuated by a suicide bombing outside Kabul's airport that killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghans.

It was one of the largest airlifts in history, evacuating more than 120,000 Americans, Afghans and people of other nationalities.

Analysis
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On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would travel next week to Qatar and Germany for talks on the Afghanistan crisis.

Blinken told reporters he would leave Sunday and voice "deep gratitude" to Qatar, a key hub for the massive US airlift of Afghans, as the Taliban swiftly took control of the country.

The top US diplomat said he would then head to Germany to lead a virtual 20-nation ministerial meeting on Afghanistan alongside Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The countries "all have a stake in helping to relocate and resettle Afghans and in holding the Taliban to their commitments," Blinken said.

He was referring to the Taliban's promises to let Afghans leave the country even after the United States ended its 20-year military mission there earlier this week.

(AFP, Reuters)