US state and defense secretaries set off for Qatar

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

Blinken departed from an air force base near Washington on Sunday. Austin also set off on a tour of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

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 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, expressed concern over Afghanistan in an interview with Fox News on Saturday.

He said the current conditions could develop into a civil war, and in turn, lead to an expansion of terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

The dispatch of the top US officials is also apparently aimed at bolstering ties with Qatar and securing its cooperation for the safe evacuation of US and other citizens hoping to leave Afghanistan.