Qatar will represent American interests in Afghanistan beginning December 31, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced, “underscoring deep cooperation on regional issues.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was closed after last summer’s withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops, ending the country’s 20-year war and leaving it under Taliban control.
Blinken and Qatari Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani signed an accord Friday at the State Department authorizing Qatar as the “protecting power” of the U.S. in the South Asian country.
“Qatar will establish a U.S. interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan,” Blinken said.
In the joint statement issued Saturday, the two nations said they’ll work together on regional issues, including global affairs, health, labor and human rights, counterterror, climate, education, military and the economy.
“Qatar and the United States remain mutually invested in continuous dialogue, partnership, and long-term cooperation,” the statement reads. “The two sides welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Qatar in 2022. As a first step, the United States unveiled drawings of the new U.S. embassy compound, which will be built in the coming years in Doha.”
Qatar will also oversee the protection of the vacant U.S. diplomatic facilities in Kabul.
Qatar has played a vital role in talks between the Taliban and the U.S. for many years and has helped with the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan.
More than 124,000 people have been evacuated from the country since August. About half of the evacuees traveled through Qatar on Qatari charter and U.S. military planes.
In a separate agreement, a senior U.S. official said Qatar also committed to temporarily host up to 8,000 vulnerable Afghans, who have applied for special immigrant visas for themselves and eligible family members.