The U.S. looks into having 3 Central Asian states take in at-risk Afghans
– The Biden administration is looking for three Central Asian nations to temporarily take in thousands of Afghans working with U.S. forces and facing Taliban threats when American troops depart after 20 years, three individuals familiar with the subject said Friday.
They said Washington is talking to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan about allowing Afghan citizens at-risk. Two sources were U.S. officials, all requesting anonymity.
The three individuals said a deal with no country appeared near.
The decision to relocate at-risk Afghans risks inflaming a feeling of crisis in Afghanistan, as combat has risen in recent weeks between U.S.-backed Afghan troops and the Taliban, with insurgents seizing control of huge tracts of land.
Thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters fear Taliban danger after two decades with the U.S. troops.
Last week, the U.S. revealed intentions to seek sanctuary for thousands of vulnerable Afghans in nations outside Afghanistan so that their U.S. visa applications could be completed from safety, but Washington did not identify where to go.
On Friday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki gave no more specifics.
“One of the reasons I won’t get into security details about what third nation they could travel to, and how many, is precisely for that reason, but surely our timeline is to move these people to a location outside Afghanistan before we finish our military pullback,” Psaki said.
President Joe Biden said individuals who assisted the U.S. would not be left behind, and on Thursday a top Republican senator indicated preparations to evacuate at-risk Afghans will include family members for as many as 50,000 people.
“We identified a group of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) candidates who worked as interpreters and translators, as well as other at-risk groups that aided us. They will be moved outside Afghanistan before we finish our military withdrawal by September to complete the visa application process, “A top administrator stated.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken visited his Tajik and Uzbek colleagues on Thursday. The State Department noted in the meetings’ readings that Afghanistan was covered, but offered no additional details.
Washington agreed to withdraw in last year’s accord under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden disregarded military officials’ recommendation to hold on until a deal was achieved between militants and the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.
Last week in Washington, Biden said Ghani Afghans must decide their own path. Ghani said his duty was now to “handle the U.S. exit repercussions.”
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