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US exploring land routes to evacuate Afghans

The US is exploring ways to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies looking to leave the war-torn nation including via land routes, American officials said, reasserting a commitment to help eligible people who were not airlifted out.

US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said President Joe Biden’s administration is engaged in “ongoing intensive diplomatic work” to help American citizens and Afghan allies wishing to leave Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Al Jazeera reported.

“We are looking at all possible options � air routes, land routes to continue to find ways for them to help evacuate and to support them in that,” she said during a news briefing on WEdnesday.

Nuland welcomed efforts by Qatar and Turkey to reopen the airport in Kabul in coordination with the Taliban.

“They have relatively optimistic projections about when that will happen, but we need to see it happen obviously,” she told reporters, as per Al Jazeera.

She said the administration’s “top priority” is to get the 100 to 200 remaining US citizens out of the country.

Nuland declined to share details about the possible land routes to minimise potential risks for people who may have to take them.

Also on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington fully backs efforts to reopen the airport in Kabul, which he said would allow US citizens to leave Afghanistan and enable the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“The Turks and the Qataris together with forces on the ground are working as quickly as they can to reopen the civilian airport,” he said.

“This is an endeavour that we continue to support in every way we can because we believe it is important for our own interests.”