AUSTRALIA TO CLOSE EMBASSY IN AFGHANISTAN AS TROOPS WITHDRAW
Australia will close its embassy in Kabul this week as the country's troops prepare to leave in line with the international withdrawal from Afghanistan, Canberra said, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
Australia's embassy building will close on Friday, with officials in the future visiting Afghanistan from a post elsewhere in the region, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a joint statement.
The government said Australia would revert to diplomats using visiting accreditation for relations with Afghanistan, as was the case before the Kabul embassy opened in 2006.
"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 read.
Canberra cited the "increasingly uncertain security environment" that has come with the imminent departure of international forces and said the government had been advised security arrangements could not be provided to support an ongoing diplomatic presence.
The move "does not alter our commitment to Afghanistan or its people," Payne and Morrison said.
Afghanistan is in a state of uncertainty after US President Joe Biden announced that American troops will pull out from the country by September 11, 2021 after almost 20 years. NATO agreed to follow suit.
Almost 10,000 NATO soldiers from the Resolute Support training mission - including 2,500 soldiers from the US and around 1,100 from Germany, the two biggest contingents - are due to leave the country.
Australia has 80 troops remaining in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission. Since the withdrawal officially began on May 1, the Taliban have intensified attacks on provincial capitals, districts, bases, and checkpoints.