US top officials begin ‘thank you’ tour to Gulf, Germany after Afghanistan pullout
US Secretary of State and Defense Secretary began on Sunday what was dubbed as a “thank you” tour to Gulf countries and Germany to thank allies for helping Washington evacuate thousands of people out of Afghanistan after the Taliban took over.
The US withdrew its last troops and officials from Afghanistan on August 31, ending over 20 years of American presence of the country.
The US pullout included one of the largest airlifts in history, evacuating more than 120,000 Americans, Afghans, and other nationals. However, thousands of at-risk Afghans who worked for foreign governments in the country remain behind, as well as approximately 100 US citizens.
The State department said Secretary Antony Blinken will travel to Germany and Qatar to “our enduring partnerships with these countries as well as our deep gratitude for their support for our ongoing efforts on Afghanistan.”
Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Dean Thompson, had highlighted Washington’s gratitude for Qatar’s role in the evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan.
The US has moved its mission to Afghanistan from Kabul to Doha.
“Qatar was the first country to take flights from Afghanistan and is the largest site in the world for hosting people in transit from Afghanistan,” Thompson said.
“More than 55,000 people have passed through Qatar so far helping us repatriate hundreds of US citizens and facilitate the safe travel of thousands of third country nationals and at-risk Afghans,” he added, saying that Doha’s efforts underscore the strength of US-Qatar ties and the importance of the relationship in “promoting regional stability.”
After Qatar, Blinken will head to Germany to “coordinate efforts on issues of overlapping interest including our support of safe travel and humanitarian aid” in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, will head to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
He will meet with regional partners and military leaders “to thank them for their cooperation with the US” in the evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby had said.