Merkel cancels visit to Israel due to situation in Afghanistan
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled her planned visit to Israel this weekend due to developments in Afghanistan, her office announced.
The visit “has been cancelled in consultation with the Israeli Prime Minister due to the current developments in Afghanistan,” Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
He said both sides have agreed to reschedule the outgoing chancellor’s visit to a later date.
The news came on the same afternoon as reports of an explosion outside the airport serving Kabul, the Afghan capital, where thousands are waiting to be evacuated from the country.
Germany’s plans to evacuate its citizens, Afghan local staff, and their family members from the country have been hampered by the deteriorating security situation in Kabul, Anadolu Agency reported.
The German military was planning to carry out its final evacuation flights on Thursday, while Germany’s special envoy Markus Potzel was holding talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar to allow civilian airlifts after the Aug. 31 deadline.
The Taliban have repeatedly said they would not extend the Aug. 31 deadline for the full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, including those currently controlling Kabul airport.
Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, Germany has evacuated nearly 5,200 people from Afghanistan, but thousands more Afghans who worked for the German military, development agencies, or other institutions are still trying to flee the country.