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Seoul to continue monitor situation in Afghanistan: Korean ambassador

In this captured image, Choi Tae-ho, South Korean Ambassador to Afghanistan, speaks to reporters via a video link on Wednesday (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
In this captured image, Choi Tae-ho, South Korean Ambassador to Afghanistan, speaks to reporters via a video link on Wednesday (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

South Korea will continue to monitor the situation in Afghanistan, including the formation of a new government, following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country, according to the South Korean ambassador to Afghanistan on Wednesday. 

“The embassy will continue to monitor the situation in Afghanistan, including how the international community will respond to the formation of the government, and jointly respond with the international community,” Choi Tae-ho, Korea’s ambassador to Afghanistan, told reporters via a video link from Qatar on Wednesday. 

Choi was among the last group of South Korean nationals to leave Afghanistan on Tuesday. Seoul temporarily shut its embassy in Kabul on Sunday and evacuated embassy personnel and Korean nationals amid the surging chaos as Taliban forces entered the capital city and effectively took control of the country, ousting the US-led Afghan government. 

The South Korean Embassy in Qatar is now overseeing Afghan affairs and will do so until the situation in Afghanistan stabilizes. 

Choi gave an overview of the dramatic evacuation process, which he described as like a war scene from a movie with sounds of gunfire reverberating and chaos at the airport as Afghans stormed the runway in a bid to flee. 

Seoul’s decision to exit Afghanistan was reached at the last minute on Sunday during an emergency virtual meeting between Choi, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and other officials who convened to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. 

Toward the end of the meeting, the ambassador received a report from the security service firm that the Taliban was closely approaching the capital. Also after getting messages from “friendly nations” on the urgency of the situation and their recommendation to pull out the staff and embassy, Seoul decided to temporarily close the embassy. 

Upon the decision to evacuate, the diplomatic personnel rushed to destroy sensitive documents and took other steps needed to close the embassy. 

Most of the embassy staff left first on Sunday to a third country in the Middle East. Choi and two other embassy staff members were left behind to convince one remaining Korean national to leave the country. 

The final four were not able to leave the country until Tuesday, because the plane could not take off with the airport tarmac surrounded by thousands of Afghan civilians who were seeking any possible escape from the Taliban-ruled country. 

The group was able to take off on a military cargo jet, which was packed with Americans, people from other countries as well as Afghans, at around 9 a.m. by Korea time.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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