Oct. 13 (UPI) — The U.S. State Department on Tuesday appointed a new coordinator for Afghan relocation efforts as the United States continues to hold meetings with the Taliban following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Ambassador Elizabeth Jones will take on the role of coordinator for Afghan relocation efforts, succeeding Ambassador John Bass, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Jones, who previously served as deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and ambassador to Kazakhstan, will take on the task of facilitating the departures of Afghans who wish to leave the country and helping them resettle in the United States.
“Ambassador Jones will focus on the very complex issues related to our efforts to facilitate the relocation and resettlement in the United States of Afghan individuals to whom we have a commitment,” said Price. “This includes efficient and effective coordination within the Department, across the interagency and with international partners, as well as outreach to our colleagues in Congress, our press corps and to others.”
The shift came as a U.S. delegation has been meeting with the Taliban in Doha where the U.S. agreed to provide Afghans with humanitarian assistance and will “provide facilities for other humanitarian organizations to deliver aid.”
Price described the meetings as “candid” in a press conference on Tuesday and acknowledged there was “a degree at least of consensus” about the desire for aid between the two sides.
“There has been progress on a number of fronts,” he said. “I think there were … productive discussions on the issue of humanitarian assistance.”
Price added a key message in the meeting was that the United States would work to ensure that Afghanistan does not become “a launch pad for attacks against the United States,” noting that there was some shared interest as the Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, is “a mutual threat to the Taliban and to the United States and our partners.”
President Joe Biden also participated in a virtual meeting on Afghanistan with G20 leaders where the White House said they discussed the need to maintain “laser-focus on our enduring counterterrorism efforts,” including threats from ISIS-K and ensuring safe passage for those who wish to leave the country.
“We’re committed to working closely with the international community and using diplomatic, humanitarian and economic means to address the situation in Afghanistan and support the Afghan people,” Biden wrote on Twitter.