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Taliban says Afghanistan ‘free nation’ as it hails US exit

Tuesday August 31, 2021
By Ted Regencia and Tamila Varshalomidze

The Afghan group says the US defeat is lesson for everyone else, and says it wants ‘good relations’ with the rest of the world.

Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the US withdrawal in Kabul [Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP]

The Taliban says Afghanistan is a “free and sovereign” nation as it hails the exit of US troops after 20 years of occupation, describing their departure as a “historic moment”.

Taliban fighters on Tuesday took charge of Kabul’s airport as the last US soldiers flew out of the country. Celebratory gunfire and fireworks lit up the Kabul night sky.

Speaking to reporters from Kabul airport on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “We do not have any doubt that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a free and sovereign nation.

“America was defeated… and on behalf of my nation, we want to have good relations with the rest of the world,” he said.

He also promised Afghans “will protect our freedom, independence and Islamic values”.

Earlier, Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, announced that the last American troops flew out of Kabul just before midnight local time (19:30 GMT).

“We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out. But I think if we stayed another 10 days, we would not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”

US President Joe Biden set a deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal of US troops.

International community must remain engaged: Pakistan FM

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, says at a joint news conference with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, held in Islamabad:

“We will give you a very good holistic view of what the challenges are, what the concerns are, the opportunities are and what needs to be done in the days ahead, how the international community should act, what are the advantages of remaining engaged, what would be the consequences of abandonment, what did we learn from the past …”

US embassy to assist citizens in Afghanistan from Qatar

The US embassy in Kabul suspended operations on Tuesday, August 31, its website said.

“While the US government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist US citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar,” the website said.

“The international community must remain engaged, humanitarian assistance must flow to not let the economic collapse in Afghanistan take place. Vacuum is in nobody’s interest, instability is in nobody’s interest, exodus of refugees will not, cannot be stopped within the region.”


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