Blinken heads to Kuwait as US seeks Gulf hosts for Afghans

Washington wants to relocate Afghans facing death threats and worse from emboldened Taliban

Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Kuwait comes as the US wraps up America’s two-decade war in Afghanistan. EPA
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kuwait and India next week for talks on the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the coronavirus and other issues, US officials said on Friday.

Mr Blinken’s four-day trip beginning on Monday comes as the Joe Biden administration wraps up America’s two-decade war in Afghanistan and seeks to relocate Afghans who aided US troops by the end of August.

Kuwait, along with Qatar, is one of several countries being considered as possible hosts for thousands of Afghans who worked with American troops and want to be relocated to the US, fearing reprisals amid a dizzying Taliban offensive in the war-torn country.

“The department is actively engaged in relocation planning for these brave Afghans and their families,” Daniel Benaim, the State Department’s point-man on the Arabian Peninsula, told reporters.

“We’re engaged actively in a number of countries on these issues.”

Mr Blinken’s talks with senior Kuwaiti officials also come as the two countries mark 30 years since US forces liberated the country from Iraqi forces and 60 years since the two countries established relations, said Mr Benaim.

In New Delhi, Mr Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and others to speak on a range of issues, including China’s growing clout in the region.

India is central to US efforts to counter China’s growing influence across the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the agenda would include “Covid-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values and addressing the climate crisis”.

Updated: July 23, 2021, 8:30 PM