The United States and nearly 100 other countries said on Sunday that they will hold the Taliban to "assurances" of "safe and orderly" travel out of the country amid fears that the insurgent group will not allow people to leave Afghanistan past an Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the nation.
“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” the 98 countries said in their joint statement.
“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the countries added.
The countries said that they would continue providing travel documentation to those who wanted to leave the country, adding that they had a “clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries.”
The statement did not include Russia and China, two U.N. Security Council member countries, The New York Times noted. The Sunday Times reported that the two world powers have signaled that they are ready to work with the Taliban as the insurgent group undergoes Cabinet preparations.
Sunday's statement did not outline clear repercussions the Taliban could face if they failed to uphold their promises, but a senior State Department official told The New York Times that the nations were trying to hint that foreign aid, among other incentives, could be on the line.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen issued a statement on Saturday on behalf of Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, deputy director for the Taliban’s political office, saying that Afghans who had proper documentation could leave the country freely.
“Those Afghans who are intending to go abroad, they can do so in a dignified manner and peace of mind by having legal documents like passports and visas after resumption of commercial flights in the country. S.Abas Stanikzai Deputy Director, Political Office,” Shaheen tweeted on Saturday.