WASHINGTON: The Afghan embassy in Washington, under heavy financial pressure and isolated from the new Taliban government in Kabul, will close next week, a senior State Department official confirmed Saturday.
Its diplomats, holdovers from the old government, now have a month to apply for US visas before being deported, though not back to Afghanistan, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
About 100 diplomats currently work at the embassy in Washington or at Afghan consulates in Los Angeles and New York, according to The New York Times.
About a quarter have not yet applied to stay in the US, the US official said.
“The Afghan embassy and consulates are under heavy financial pressure. Their bank accounts are not available to them,” the official told AFP.
He added: “We have no intention of accrediting Taliban-appointed diplomats at this time.” The group will retain its current diplomatic status for 30 days.
The official said the State Department “has now made arrangements in cooperation with the Afghan embassy to facilitate an orderly closure of operations in a manner that protects and preserves all diplomatic mission property in the United States until operations can resume”.
The Taliban, who seized power in Kabul last August, are not recognized by the international community and have not gained full control of the diplomatic missions created under the previous government.
Many of the diplomats remain loyal to the former pro-Western government.
Meanwhile, Afghan diplomats no longer have access to several hundred thousand dollars in funds after banks, not the US government, froze their accounts, the US official said.
Accreditation of Taliban-appointed diplomats, if it occurs, is “something that would happen much later, if we moved toward official recognition of them as the government of Afghanistan,” the official said.
He said that the US side had not had talks with the Taliban about the decision to close the embassy.
In January, the Afghan ambassador in Beijing resigned after months without funding from Kabul.
In early February, following a Taliban delegation’s visit to Norway for talks with various Western diplomats, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told AFP that his government was getting closer to achieving recognition, saying : “This is our right.”
He said that the international community wanted to interact with his government.