The Latest: Roar of aircraft again heard in Kabul

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In this Aug. 30, 2021, photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a Air Force aircrew, assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, prepares to receive soldiers, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in support of the final noncombatant evacuation operation missions at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Afghanistan. (Senior Airman Taylor Crul/U.S. Air Force via AP)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban media spokesman has tweeted a picture of Qatar military aircraft on the ground at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.

Ahmadullah Muttaqi posted the photo on Thursday. In Kabul, meanwhile, the roar of aircraft overhead could be heard.

It was the first air activity in the capital since Monday when the last U.S. evacuation flight left the Afghanistan, bringing to an end to America’s longest war. In interviews on Tuesday at the airport Taliban officials said they hoped to get the civilian airport up and running within days and the military portion sometime later.

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TIRANA, Albania — The Albanian government says another group of 37 Afghans evacuated from Kabul has arrived in the country.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the group arrived early at dawn on Thursday from Kiev, Ukraine. They were taken to university campus accommodation in the capital, Tirana, where they will stay before moving to hotels.

Albania has accommodated most of the 644 Afghans it is temporarily hosting in hotels.

The government has said it may house up to 4,000 Afghans temporarily, before they travel on to countries for longer-term settlement.

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Afghans face hunger crisis, adding to Taliban’s challenge

—Biden defends departure from ‘forever war,’ praises airlift

— UN chief urges countries to help Afghans in ‘hour of need’

— Victorious Taliban focus on governing after US withdrawal

— New Taliban rulers face tough economic, security challenges

— Analysis: War is over but not Biden’s Afghanistan challenges

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary says that although the U.K. won’t soon recognize the Taliban’s government, “there is an important scope” for dialogue with Afghanistan’s new rulers.

In a joint press conference in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Dominic Raab said he supported “engagement” with the Taliban to test the group’s wide-ranging promises. He cited the Taliban’s pledges to protect freedom of travel for Afghans and foreigners, to form an inclusive government and, significantly, to prevent international terrorist groups from using the war-scarred country as a base.

Raab said: “In all of these areas, we will judge them by what they do, not just by what they say.”

Diplomatic recognition would prove critical in allowing the Taliban to access development aid and loans from international financial institutions as the group confronts an economy in free fall.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar’s Foreign Minister says there is still “no clear indication” of when the Kabul airport will resume normal operations, but that the Gulf Arab state is evaluating the situation with Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.

In a joint press conference in Doha with his British counterpart, Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Qatar remains “hopeful that we will be able to operate (the airport) as soon as possible,” without giving a timeline or elaborating on Qatar’s role in providing technical assistance. He said Qatar is working with the Taliban “to identify what are the gaps and the risks of having the airport back up and running.”

Kabul’s international airport has been closed to normal traffic since Aug. 16, when the Taliban took control of Kabul. Military flights and evacuations continued until Aug. 31, when U.S. forces quit the country and left the runway without air traffic controllers.

Al Thani also urged the Taliban to live up to its promise to allow Afghans and foreigners to leave the country freely once the airport reopens.

Qatar sent a technical team to Kabul airport on Wednesday to assess the operations. The tiny sheikhdom, which facilitated talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, has played an outsized role in American efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan.

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UNITED NATIONS — The president of the U.N. Security Council says the U.N.’s most powerful body will not take its focus off Afghanistan this month and “the real litmus test” for the new Taliban government will be how it treats women and girls.

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason of Ireland said Wednesday that the protection and promotion of human rights for women “must be at the very heart of our collective response to the crisis.”

Under the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, women were not allowed to go to school, work outside the home or leave homes without a male escort. Though they faced many challenges in the country’s male-dominated society after the Taliban’s ouster, Afghan girls were not only educated but over the last 20 years women increasingly stepped into powerful positions in numerous fields including government, business, health and education.

Bryne Nason said: “My question is, will the Taliban be different, and that’s the real question. We haven’t seen any evidence of that.”

She said the international community has clout because whatever form of government emerges in Afghanistan needs international support — and human rights and respect for international law “are red line issues.”

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