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Australia to shut Kabul embassy amid fears of deteriorating security

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Australian officials say that the country will shut its embassy in Afghanistan this as the international troops withdraw, triggering fears of deteriorating security situation in Kabul.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Kabul and vowed the embassy would reopen once the circumstances were fine.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials will visit Afghanistan from other residential posts in the region.

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

“This form of diplomatic representation is common practice around the world. It does not alter our commitment to Afghanistan or its people.”

The ministry of foreign affairs says that it respects the decision made by the Australian but hoped the embassy’ closure be a temporary decision. “We beside appreciating Australia’s cooperation with Afghanistan during the last years and the commitment of the country for continuation of support, hope this decision will be temporary and the embassy restart activity as before,” said, Hamid Tahzib, a spokesman for the ministry.

Some political analysts termed the poor diplomatic system of the government as a reason for the Australia’s “unilateral” decision to close embassy in Kabul. “The unilateral decision of Australia regarding closing its embassy in Kabul shows the weakness of diplomatic system of Afghanistan because it could not convince the Australian on time that the Afghan security forces are committed to provide security for all embassies in Kabul,” he added.

The Taliban on Tuesday pledged to provide a “safe environment” to foreign diplomats, after Australia announced it would shutter its embassy over security concerns in the near time.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan assures all foreign diplomats and staff of humanitarian organizations that (we) will not pose any threats to them,” Taliban spokesman in Qatar, Mohammad Naeem said.

The embassy has been open since 2006. Its location is rarely made public, due to security concerns.

Morrison said the departure of Australian and allied forces over the next few months brought with it an increasingly uncertain security environment.

“The government has been advised that security arrangements could not be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence,” he said.

Labor has called on the government to outline the factors behind its decision and whether alternative options were considered, such as co-locating a diplomatic presence with other like-minded nations.

The prime minister has previously promised Australia would continue supporting Afghanistan through its diplomatic presence, cooperation on development and continued people-to-people links.

“The Morrison government should explain how it will now meet these commitments,” Labor senator Penny Wong said.

“We are also disappointed that after 20 years of successive Australian military, diplomatic and development engagement in Afghanistan, there was no bipartisan consultation on this important decision.

“This will have a direct negative impact on Australia’s ability to deliver and monitor our ongoing development partnership with Afghanistan.”

The embassy in Kabul will close on Friday, May 28.

The final 80 remaining Australian troops will pull out of Afghanistan by September, in line with America’s timeline to end its “forever war” before the 20-year anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

The United States began its formal withdrawal earlier this month.

“Australia remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and to helping preserve the gains of the past 20 years,” Morrison said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne visited Kabul earlier this month, reaffirming Australia’s support for the Afghanistan government.

“Australia remains committed to the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, and we will continue to support the stability and development of Afghanistan in concert with other nations,” the prime minister said.

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