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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Qatari technical team onboard first flight to land in Kabul airport

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Several countries have been engaging with the Taliban with hopes to resume operations at the civilian side of the Kabul airport.

A Qatari technical team arrived in Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International airport on Wednesday, sources confirmed to Doha News.

A video that circulated on social media showed the moments a Qatar Airways-branded plane landed at the Kabul airport – the first aircraft to arrive at the facility following the completion of the troop withdrawal on 31 August.

The Qatari jet carried a technical team to discuss the resumption of operations at the airport, sourced confirmed to Doha News. Russian media said a Turkish team was also onboard.

The team launched discussions based on a Taliban request, however no final agreement has yet been reached, the sources added, noting talks are still ongoing at the level of security and operation.

Earlier reports, citing several Taliban officials, said talks between the Taliban, Qatar and Turkey are underway over the provision of technical support at the airport.

This also comes as a Taliban spokesman confirmed to Al Araby TV that the group officially requested help from Qatar to help operate the airport “as soon as possible”.

Speaking to Russian media, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to Novosti that most of the remaining equipment at Kabul airport was left destroyed and the team are there to assist in repairing the damages.

Read also: Netherlands latest to request relocation of Kabul embassy to Doha

Qatar and its western allies have been stressing the importance of resuming flights in and out of Kabul for humanitarian assistance and ensuring the safe mobility of people trying to travel from the country.

“Freedom of movement and mobility is one of the most important indicators of the return to normalcy in Afghanistan,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during a press conference with his German counterpart on Tuesday.

Several countries have been raising concerns over some of their personnel and Afghans that have left behind, calling for the need to resume evacuations even after the 31 August deadline.

Countries like the UK have also announced talks with the Taliban to provide a safe passage for those wishing to leave the country.

The latest developments and arrival of the Qatar Airways plane suggests positive steps have been taken at the ongoing talks.

Late on Monday, Washington ended its military presence just hours ahead of its 31 August deadline, with Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, being the last American soldier to leave the country.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council approved a resolution offered by France, the US and UK aimed at allowing the continuation of evacuations past the deadline by both air and ground “including at the reopened and secured Kabul airport, with no one preventing them from travelling.”

In total, 13 of the representatives voted in favour of the resolution, with two abstentions.


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