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NATO calls Kabul situation unpredictable as foreign ministers hold crisis talks

by Reuters
Friday, 20 August 2021 13:29 GMT

Aug 20 (Reuters) - NATO's priority is to get people out of Kabul and keep the airport running, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday as the alliance's foreign ministers met for a virtual crisis meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

"The situation remains difficult and unpredictable," Stoltenberg told reporters. "The main challenge we face is ensuring that people reach and enter Kabul airport."

More than 18,000 people have been flown out of Kabul since the Taliban took over Afghanistan's capital, according to a NATO official, but thousands of people, desperate to flee the country, are still thronging the airport.

Stoltenberg thanked Turkey, the United States and Britain for their efforts to establish security at Kabul airport.

He again urged the Taliban to allow the safe passage of all foreign nationals and Afghans seeking to depart the country.

After almost two decades, NATO this summer completed military operations in Afghanistan and withdrew most troops from the country.

But the alliance still operates a diplomatic representation in Kabul and, headquartered in Brussels, it also serves as a forum to coordinate national measures in Afghanistan, such as the evacuation of citizens. (Reporting by Sabine Siebold Editing by John Chalmers)

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