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Australia to close Kabul embassy amid ‘uncertain security environment’

Australian gov’t hints move may be temporary, Afghanistan says it respects Canberra’s decision.

Australia will close its embassy in Afghanistan on May 28, the government announced on Tuesday, citing the “increasingly uncertain security environment” in the war-weary country ahead of the imminent withdrawal of foreign forces.

“The departure of the international forces and hence Australian forces from Afghanistan over the next few months brings with it an increasingly uncertain security environment, where the government has been advised that security arrangements could not be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a joint statement.

They said Australia will “revert to the model of visiting accreditation for our diplomatic representation to Afghanistan, which we used from the opening of diplomatic relations in 1969 until 2006.”

“Our residential representation in Afghanistan and the Australian Embassy in Kabul will be closed at this time,” read the statement.

“It is Australia’s expectation that this measure will be temporary and that we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances permit.”

The statement said Australia will continue to deliver on its “development and humanitarian commitments in the coming years, including a bilateral development assistance commitment of $200 million over 2021-2024.”

Kabul said it respects Canberra’s decision but hopes the closure will be temporary.

“We hope, as mentioned in the Australian government statement, that this measure will be temporary, and Australia will soon resume its permanent presence in Afghanistan,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Based on international laws and conventions, and within the framework of agreements with friendly countries, the Afghan government remains committed and obligated to ensure the security of diplomatic missions and the safety of diplomatic and consular representatives.”

The statement appreciated Australia’s reaffirmed commitment to continue support and assistance to Afghanistan, saying that 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.”

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