Denmark and Norway to shut embassies in Afghanistan, evacuate staff

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COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Denmark and Norway will temporarily shut their Kabul embassies while Finland will evacuate up to 130 local Afghan workers, ministers from the Nordic countries said on Friday (Aug 13).

“The Danes in Afghanistan must leave the country immediately, the situation is very serious,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told a news conference, adding that all embassy employees will be evacuated and the mission will be closed temporarily.

Norway echoed the move, with Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide telling a news conference that evacuation will also be available “to locally employed Afghans with immediate family in Norway who wish it”.

Meanwhile, Soreide’s Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto said the country’s parliament had agreed to “take in up to 130 Afghans who have worked in the service of Finland, the EU and Nato along with their families” because of “the quickly weakening security situation”.

Haavisto said Finland’s embassy would remain open for now, subject to ongoing security evaluations.

In line with its neighbour, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted on Friday that the country would only scale back its diplomatic presence for now, but that preparations for the evacuation of embassy staff were under way.

The announcements come as Washington announced on Thursday that it was sending thousands of troops to Kabul to evacuate diplomats and other nationals in the face of the Taleban’s advance into the Afghan capital.

The United Kingdom quickly followed the US lead.

On Friday, Germany announced it was reducing its diplomatic staff in Kabul to the “absolute minimum” in the face of the Taleban offensive, which is approaching the Afghan capital.