Iran expresses concern, West appeals to embassy staff over Taliban advances in Afghanistan

Iran is calling on the Taliban to ensure the safety of its diplomats and consulate staff in the western Afghan city of Herat as Western embassies and aid groups evacuate staff from Afghanistan.

The Taliban have taken over Kandahar; the country’s second largest city, Herat; and a string of other Afghan provincial capitals in recent days as international forces pull out of the country after a two-decade presence, raising fears of the collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul.

“The Islamic Republic is concerned about the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and, in light of the Taliban takeover of Herat, calls for full security guarantees for its diplomatic missions and the lives of its personnel,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted in August. 13.

Khatibzadeh said the ministry was “in touch” with its staff in the town, located just 115 kilometers from the Iranian border.

Shiite-dominated Iran, which has long been suspicious of the Sunni Muslim Taliban, has closed its consulates in Herat and the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif over security concerns.

The head of Iran’s Foreign Ministry for Western Asia, Rusoul Mosavi, said personnel in Herat were inside the mission and “the forces now controlling the city have given guarantees of full protection. to the consulate, diplomats and other staff,” the official IRNA news agency said. reported.

In 1998, when Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban, its militants killed at least eight Iranian diplomats and an Iranian journalist at the Mazar-e Sharif consulate in an incident that nearly triggered an Iranian military intervention.

As the Taliban’s rapid advance sent shock waves through the international community, the Taliban said in a declaration that “diplomats and staff of embassies, consulates and institutions, whether foreign or national, will not only be safe from the Islamic emirate, but will also benefit from an atmosphere of security and trust”.

The US military said it would send around 3,000 more troops within 48 hours to help evacuate US embassy staff, while Britain said it would deploy around 600 troops to help its citizens from.

Meanwhile, the Danish Embassy in Kabul is temporarily closing and Danish TV quoted Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod as saying staff were being evacuated.

“We have decided to temporarily close our embassy in Kabul,” Kofod told reporters, adding that the evacuation would be closely coordinated with Norway, with which it shares a compound.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Soreide said she would also close her embassy and evacuate Norwegian diplomats, local employees and their relatives.

Sigrid Kaag, Dutch foreign minister, said she would keep her embassy open for as long as possible, but a ministry spokesperson confirmed a withdrawal was underway.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin was reducing its embassy staff to the “absolute minimum operationally necessary” and that a “crisis support team” was immediately sent to the Afghan capital to reinforce the security of the diplomatic mission.

Planned charter flights would be brought forward to ferry diplomats and local staff working for the embassy out of the country, Maas told reporters.

With reports from Reuters, AFP and AP