Australia to close embassy in Afghanistan’s Kabul during withdrawal of NATO troops

Canberra, May 25 (FN Agency) Australia will close its embassy in Kabul on May 28 during the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “In light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Australia will as an interim measure revert to the model of visiting accreditation for our diplomatic representation to Afghanistan … Our residential representation in Afghanistan and the Australian Embassy in Kabul will be closed at this time. We will close our Embassy building on 28 May 2021,” the statement, published by the Australian foreign ministry, read.

The country expects that the measure will be temporary and the mission will be able to reopen as soon as circumstances allow. In the meantime, Australian diplomats from other countries of the region will visit Afghanistan regularly, the statement added. “This form of diplomatic representation is common practice around the world. It does not alter our commitment to Afghanistan or its people,” the officials noted. Commenting on the embassy’s closure, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it took note of the Australian government’s decision and respected it.

“We remain grateful to Australia’s reaffirmed commitment to continue its support and assistance to Afghanistan and acknowledge that the realization of these pledges play a significant role in the fight against terrorism, ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, and continuation of strategic cooperation between the two countries,” the ministry said in a statement. Last month, Washington announced that all US forces would be removed from Afghanistan before September 11, with the gradual pullout starting in May. In response, NATO pledged to begin withdrawing its troops in coordination with the United States starting May 1. In mid-April, Morrison supported the pledge, saying that the remaining 80 Australian troops would be fully withdrawn from the Central Asian country by September.