CERNOBBIO, ITALY (REUTERS) – Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, in Qatar, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday (Sept 5), the latest indication of Western diplomats setting up permanently outside Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
The announcement follows earlier signals that Western countries and the European Union, which have closed their missions in Kabul, may use the Gulf state as an offshore hub for their diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.
Many diplomats flew to the Gulf state, which has hosted the Taliban’s political office since 2013, after evacuating the Afghan capital late last month.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have kept their embassies in the Afghan capital open, increasing their opportunities to directly influence a new government, which is in the process of being formed.
“I will meet today with the Emir of Qatar and then with the foreign minister because it is our intention to relocate the embassy we had in Kabul to Doha,” said Mr Di Maio, who was speaking in a video call from Doha to businessmen and politicians attending a business conference in Cernobbio on Lake Como.
“Qatar has become the centre of diplomatic relations with respect to this Afghan government that is being formed,” Mr Di Maio said.
Sources within the Taliban have said its co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will lead a new Afghan government set to be announced soon.
The United States suspended operations at its Kabul embassy on Aug 31, a day after Washington completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war that culminated in the militant Taliban’s return to power.
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