US defense and state secretaries to visit Qatar

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Qatar in an apparent bid to boost diplomatic and security ties with the country, which has built relations with the Taliban.

A Pentagon spokesperson said Austin will depart from the US on Sunday to travel to Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Qatar on Monday.

The spokesperson said Austin will use the trip to thank regional partners and military leaders for their cooperation in evacuating Americans, Afghans and citizens of other nations from Afghanistan.

The spokesperson added that Austin will also reaffirm Washington's "strong defense relationships in the region."
Qatar hosts the Taliban's political office, which serves as an international liaison facility for the group. Britain and Germany have also sent their top diplomats to Qatar to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and humanitarian support.

The US government is facing challenges with concern to Afghanistan, including how to secure the safe evacuation of Americans and other citizens hoping to leave the country.

Another issue is how to prevent Afghanistan from descending into a hotbed of terrorists.