The Taliban has declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government, trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as thousands mobbed the city’s international airport in a desperate attempt to flee.
Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed as a Western security official told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the Kabul airport’s tarmac and runway – which troops from the United States control – were now clear of crowds.
The official said military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan have started taking off.
At least seven people died in Monday’s chaos, including several people who clung to the sides of a jet as it took off.
In Washington, DC, US President Joe Biden said he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and fired scorching criticism at the country’s former Western-backed leadership for failing to resist the Taliban.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” he said in a televised address from the White House. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.”
The Taliban have meanwhile declared the war in Afghanistan over and a senior leader said the group would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a new governance structure.
China said it was ready for “friendly relations” with the Taliban, while Russia and Iran also made diplomatic overtures.
Here are the latest updates:
Afghanistan: Macron’s comments on ‘irregular’ migration draw ire
President Emmanuel Macron has said France, Germany and other EU countries are working on a coordinated response against expected “irregular migratory flows” from Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s takeover has fuelled fears among rights groups of a looming crisis.
Speaking on Monday in a televised address from his summer residence, Macron described the situation in Afghanistan as an “important challenge for our own security”.
15 mins ago (11:18 GMT)
India evacuates 170 people from Afghanistan
An Indian air force plane has evacuated more than 170 people from Kabul, including India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, a government official says, as diplomats and civilians scramble to leave the country.
The flight landed in the western Indian city of Jamnagar for refuelling on the way to the capital New Delhi, Jamnagar collector Sourabh Pardhi told Reuters news agency.
Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon said that nearly 200 personnel of the Indian mission in Afghanistan had been evacuated within three days
21 mins ago (11:12 GMT)
US to press on with Afghan evacuations, says Pentagon
The United States is still committed to its drawdown in Afghanistan and will seek to evacuate as many US citizens and Afghan interpreters as possible in coming weeks, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
“We remain committed to completing this drawdown in a safe and orderly way, and to doing what we can to getting as many of our American citizens out as well as many of those interpreters and translators” who assisted US forces, Kirby told MSNBC in an interview.
“We’re going to work really hard in the coming weeks to get as many of them out of the country as we can.”
UNICEF says some Taliban support girls’ education
The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said Taliban representatives in some parts of Afghanistan have expressed support for educating girls after they seized control when U.S. troops withdrew, its field operations chief for the country said.
Mustapha Ben Messaoud, UNICEF’s chief of field operations in Afghanistan, said some Taliban local representatives had said they were waiting for guidance on the issue from their leaders, while others have said they want schools to run for girls.
“We are cautiously optimistic on moving forward,” he told a UN briefing in Geneva.
2 hours ago (09:06 GMT)
Turkey says in talks with all Afghan parties
Turkey is in talks with all parties in Afghanistan including the Taliban and views the messages of the group since taking control of the country positively, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Turkey dropped plans to take over Kabul airport after NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan but is ready to provide support if the Taliban request it
With economic assets to secure, China embraces the Taliban
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan the first time in 1996, China refused to recognise their rule and left its embassy shut for years.
This time around, Beijing has been among the first to embrace the group next door.
China’s remarkable shift was on display little more than two weeks ago, when Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed a Taliban delegation to the northern port of Tianjin as the group made gains against the administration of President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country on Sunday.
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