KABUL, Afghanistan — BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The first evacuation flight from Kabul organized by the Slovak government has landed in Slovakia.
Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok says a total of 20 passengers were onboard, 16 Slovak nationals and four Afghans among them, including a 10-month old baby. It was the full capacity of the military transport plane.
Four other Afghan nationals who were working with the Slovak armed forces were transported onboard of a Czech evacuation flight and flown to Slovakia overnight.
Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said the members of Slovak army’s special forces had to use weapons to secure the passengers’ safe transport to the plane. He cited a deteriorating situation at the airport but declined to give details.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger says his country is coordinating further steps with allies.
MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:
— Taliban violently disperse rare protest days after takeover
— Mullah’s rise charts Taliban’s long road back to power
— Taliban allowing ‘safe passage’ from Kabul in US airlift
— In Taliban’s 7-day march to power, a stunning string of wins
— US agencies scrub websites to protect Afghans left behind
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
WARSAW, Poland — A second airplane carrying people evacuated from Afghanistan has landed in Warsaw.
The plane landed on Thursday morning, following one that brought people late Wednesday.
Poland has deployed 100 soldiers to Afghanistan to help with the evacuations of Polish and Afghan citizens. Those evacuated are first transported to Uzbekistan by military transport and then brought to Poland on civilian airliners.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has shared images on Facebook of some of those being evacuated.
ROME — Two more Italian C130s have brought nearly 200 Afghan citizens out of Kabul, as Italy continues its evacuation of people who worked with Italian forces and their families following the Taliban takeover of the country.
The Defense Ministry said the passengers aboard the two flights were transferring Thursday to other aircraft in Kuwait, and from there would continue onto Rome.
Italy has vowed to evacuate as many Afghans as it can, particularly those who worked with Italian forces during the nearly two-decade long NATO and U.S.-led operation in the country.
With the arrival in Rome later Thursday of the latest evacuees Italy says it will have airlifted out some 500 Afghans.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s steel factories’ association is concerned scrap metal smuggling abroad has increased and exhausted supplies, putting thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Abdul Nasir Reshtia, chief executive of the association says that with borders reopening, Afghanistan’s scrap metal is being smuggled once again to neighboring countries.
Reshtia warns that in next ten days, the smuggling will push factories to close as they cannot operate without scrap metal.
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had banned the export of scrap metal to support Afghan steel factories so they could compete with imported steel from neighboring countries.
Reshtia says that he has not been able to reach the Taliban leadership to share his concerns.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s foreign ministry says that a military aircraft has evacuated a single Romanian citizen from Kabul airport to Islamabad.
It said in a statement that “the particularly difficult security conditions in Kabul meant that the access of other groups of Romanian citizens to the airport could not be achieved.”
The C-130 Hercules aircraft, which evacuated a NATO employee on Wednesday evening, had military personnel and a mobile consular team onboard ready to provide “specialized assistance.” It is set to return to Kabul airport to continue evacuating Romanian citizens, officials said.
Authorities said that at the time of the operation there were 33 Romanian citizens registered as present in Afghanistan.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch military transport plane has arrived in Amsterdam carrying people evacuated from Kabul.
The Ministry of Defense says that a C-17 plane landed late Wednesday night at Schiphol airport. On board were 35 Dutch nationals along with citizens from Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The government says it has now airlifted 50 Dutch nationals out of Kabul. A Dutch consular crisis team along with dozens of troops to protect the personnel flew into the Afghan capital on Wednesday.
BRUSSELS — The European Union said Thursday that 106 staff members of EU delegations and their families had safely left Afghanistan but said that some 300 still remained behind.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday that the first plane with EU staff had landed in Madrid, from where they will be relocated among the 27 EU member states.
“There are still 300 more Afghani staff of European Union delegations blocked on the streets of Kabul trying to reach the airport and trying to have a seat on some of the European Union member state flights,” Borrell told a EU parliament committee.
He insisted that “these people have loyally promoted and defended the union’s interests and values in Afghanistan over many years,” adding that it was the EU’s “moral duty to protect them and to have to save as many people as possible.”
MADRID — Spain has evacuated 53 people from Afghanistan on its first flight to airlift Spanish citizens and Afghan workers and their families from Kabul.
The military cargo plane landed at an airport near Madrid on Thursday morning with five Spaniards and 48 Afghans on board. An unspecified number of children were included.
Spain has two more planes prepared to continue with the evacuation of Afghan workers and their families.
All the passengers received a COVID-19 test on arrival and were attended by police so that they could ask for “international protection,” the government said in a statement.
The airport also received a flight from the European Union External Action service with five Afghan families on board. Spain’s government has offered to take in additional evacuees from EU partners and care for them until they can be distributed to other countries of the bloc.
“We are still working to evacuate those Afghans who worked with Spain in the quickest manner possible and guarantee their security along with those people who have worked with the EU,” said Spanish Foreign Minister José Albares.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark says that a plane with 84 people who had been evacuated from Afghanistan has landed in Copenhagen and were now on “safe ground in Denmark.”
On Twitter, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod wrote Thursday that the evacuation “is still in full swing and we are working hard to evacuate the last local staff, interpreters and other groups from Kabul.”
Danish media said that those aboard the plane reportedly were locally hired people and interpreters who had worked for Denmark. No further details were available.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president has approved the deployment of a 100-person military contingent to Afghanistan to help secure the evacuation of Polish citizens and the citizens of other countries in coordination with allies.
President Andrzej Duda signed the order late Wednesday for the mission, and which is to last until Sept. 16.
Meanwhile, a first plane carrying a group of people who were evacuated from Afghanistan landed at Warsaw’s military airport late Wednesday, said Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. The group was first taken from Kabul by military plane to Uzbekistan and from there was transported on to Warsaw.
Since Tuesday, Polish forces have been carrying out an operation to evacuate Poles and Afghans who previously cooperated with the Polish military or diplomatic mission or who helped otherwise with western groups.
Those who arrived in Warsaw will have to go into quarantine.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has suspended all arms sales to the government of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.
In a notice to defense contractors posted Wednesday, the State Department’s Political/Military Affairs Bureau said pending or undelivered arms transfers to Afghanistan had been put under review.
“In light of rapidly evolving circumstances in Afghanistan, the Directorate of Defense Sales Controls is reviewing all pending and issued export licenses and other approvals to determine their suitability in furthering world peace, national security and the foreign policy of the United States,” it said.
The notice said it would issue updates for defense equipment exporters in the coming days.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says he’s committed to keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means maintaining a military presence there beyond his Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, Biden said that the U.S. will do “everything in our power” to get Americans and U.S. allies in the nation out before the deadline. Pressed repeatedly on how the administration would help Americans left in the nation after Aug. 31, Biden finally affirmed, “if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay till we get them all out.”
Up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban took full control of the nation. The Biden administration has received criticism for the scenes of violence and disorder in recent days as thousands attempted to flee while the Taliban advanced.
But during the same interview, Biden suggested there wasn’t anything the administration could’ve done to avoid such chaos. “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” he said.
WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund says that the new Taliban government in Afghanistan will not at the current time be allowed to access loans or other resources from the 190-nation lending organization.
In a statement Wednesday, the IMF said it would be guided by the views of the international community.
The statement said, “There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources.”
SDRs are special drawing rights which serve as a reserve that IMF member countries can tap into to meet payment obligations.