Qatar agrees to represent U.S. interests in Afghanistan

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — Qatar will represent U.S. interests in Afghanistan starting the end of next month under an agreement signed Friday, allowing the Biden administration to engage more closely with the Taliban-led government there, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The move allows Qatar to operate in a similar role as Switzerland in representing the United States in Iran and other countries that don’t have direct diplomatic ties with the United States.

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“It seems like the natural continuation of Qatar’s support for the United States in Afghanistan to assume a ‘protecting power’ role,” an official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Washington Post said. “This will enable the United States to continue dialogue with the interim [Taliban] government, and provide consular services on the ground.”

In a meeting at the State Department Friday with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Blinken agreed to assist those in Afghanistan with special travel visas to the United States and U.S. citizens willing to leave the country.

Al Thani said that Qatar and the United States are aligned in wanting to see the Taliban keep their international commitments to protect the citizens and make sure there is a constant flow of humanitarian aid.

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The deal between the Biden administration and Qatar comes as pressure mounts domestically to hold the Taliban accountable for creating a more inclusive government and protecting civil and human rights.