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Afghanistan: UAE helps facilitate evacuation of foreign diplomats as Kabul falls

The Emirates assists in evacuation of diplomatic staff from US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Egypt, Australia and EU, as Taliban group takes over Kabul
Ariana Afghan Airlines aircraft taking-off from the airport in Kabul on 14 August (AFP/File photo)

The United Arab Emirates is working to help facilitate the evacuation of foreign diplomatic staff from Afghanistan through its airports, as the Taliban closes in on the capital city, Kabul. 

The UAE's efforts include the evacuation of diplomatic staff from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Egypt, Australia and the European Union, it said in a statement on Sunday. 

The UAE is a major international air transit hub.

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France said it would dispatch two military transport planes to the United Arab Emirates during the night and on Monday for the evacuation of French citizens in Afghanistan, according to a statement released by the French Armed Forces Ministry. 

The US State Department did not respond to Middle East Eye's request for comment regarding the UAE's role in helping with its own evacuation efforts. 

Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the Turkish embassy in Kabul will not be closing.

"We have made necessary preparations for the Turkish citizens who want to leave Afghanistan ... Our embassy in Kabul continues its operations," Cavusoglu said on Sunday. 

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Taliban told MEE that its leaders were willing to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "under the right circumstances" to discuss the crisis.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has evacuated all members of its diplomatic mission in Kabul, according to state news agency SPA.

"All members of the Kingdom's embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been evacuated, and they have arrived home," it reported.

Airport under fire?

Western embassies and aid agencies began evacuating civilian staff from Afghanistan on Friday after the Taliban captured the country's second and third biggest cities, Kandahar and Herat. The Taliban entered the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, not long after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. 

The US Embassy in Kabul has said that the security situation at the airport in the Afghan capital was changing quickly and that there were reports of gunfire as US troops aided the evacuation of US personnel, Reuters reported. Two sources familiar with the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport told the news agency that they could not confirm the reports of firing there, however. 

A Nato official said all commercial flights in Kabul had been suspended and only military aircraft were allowed to operate. 

Virgin Atlantic is rerouting flights to avoid Afghanistan's airspace, it said on Sunday, joining British Airways which earlier announced a similar move.