DOHA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday the United States is working to ensure charter flights carrying US citizens and at-risk Afghans can leave Afghanistan safely.
Blinken said the United States had been conducting diplomacy with the Taliban group, which seized power in Afghanistan last month, and that Taliban officials had told Washington they will let people with travel documents freely depart Afghanistan.
Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are in Qatar to seek the evacuation of Americans and Afghans at risk following the Taliban takeover and to build a consensus among allies on how to respond to the Islamist movement.
They thanked Qatar for its support and actions.
"Qatar went above and beyond and your generosity saved thousands of lives," Austin said at a joint press conference in Doha.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said his country hoped that Kabul airport would be up and running for passengers in the next few days, but that no agreement on how to run it had yet been reached.
Qatar has been working with Turkey and the United States on restoring operations at Kabul airport. Sheikh Mohammed said the airport will require an upgrade in equipment.
Blinken denied on Tuesday reports that the Taliban had blocked Americans attempting to fly out of of a northern Afghan city, but said the group had not allowed charter flights to depart because some people lacked valid travel documents.
Reports have emerged over the past few days that 1,000 people, including Americans, had been stuck at Mazar-i-Sharif airport for days awaiting clearance for their charter flights to leave. One organizer blamed the delay on the State Department.