U.S. in final talks to house Afghan interpreters at Qatar, Kuwait military bases
The arrangements are “basically done deals,” one source said.
The U.S. is in the final stages of talks to temporarily house a number of Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. war effort and their families at U.S. military bases in Qatar and Kuwait while they await approval of their visas, according to three people with knowledge of the plans.
The first round of roughly 2,500 applicants will be flown to Fort Lee, an Army base in Virginia, starting this month, State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced on Tuesday. The base will serve as a temporary holding station for Afghan nationals who have completed the security vetting and are in the final stages of their visa application process, officials said.
Additional applicants could be relocated to U.S. military bases in Qatar and Kuwait if the host nations agree, said two U.S. officials and a congressional source. Neither country has approved the U.S. request to host the Afghan nationals, but an agreement is “close,” one of the officials said.
The Qatar and Kuwait arrangements are “basically done deals,” said the congressional source, adding that the armed services committees have been informed of the plan.
The Biden administration is also looking at U.S. bases elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific to house additional applicants at different stages in the process, one of the officials said.
Afghans who aided the U.S. military during the nearly 20-year conflict served as translators and interpreters. They’re increasingly being targeted for retribution by the Taliban as the militant group makes rapid gains in Afghanistan amid the U.S. withdrawal. The intelligence community has assessed that the country could fall to the Taliban in as little as six to 18 months, one of the U.S. officials said.
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