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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2001 > December
Taken Questions
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 14, 2001
Taken Question from December 14, 2001 Daily Press Briefing

Afghanistan: Reopening of US Mission (Taken Question)

Question: When will Ambassador Dobbins arrive in Kabul? Will there be a ceremony to re-open the Embassy? Does he have a flag? Is there still one there? Is there any story associated with the flag? Please explain the process of accreditation to the interim administration? What will Dobbins’ title be? Do we "recognize" the government?

Answer: Ambassador Dobbins will arrive in Kabul on Sunday, December 16. He will be joined by a small number of other U.S. State Department employees and a Marine Security Guard detachment to formally re-establish the United States diplomatic presence in Afghanistan as he takes up the position of Director of the U.S. Liaison Office in Kabul.

On December 16, a flag raising ceremony is scheduled at the Embassy Chancery building presided over by Ambassador Dobbins. Other U.S. Government officials will attend, along with invited Afghan and foreign guests.

Afghan Foreign Service National employees will also be part of the ceremony. These employees endured severe hardship and danger for over a decade to remain at work, maintaining the Embassy and related properties around Kabul. Their behavior and performance has been a credit to them and to Foreign Service Nationals everywhere.

The flag to be raised last flew over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul when U.S. personnel withdrew in 1989. It has been kept in the State Department in the expectation that it would someday be used again when our diplomats returned. We are pleased that this hope has been fulfilled.

Our Liaison Office will begin operations on December 16. Its purpose, as that of any diplomatic mission, will be to carry out the policy goals of the United States through its interactions with Afghans and foreigners as appropriate, to provide information and analysis to the Department of State and the U.S. Government, to coordinate activities with Afghans, foreign governments and organizations, U.S. agencies and American citizens and groups, and to provide consular services as appropriate.

The United States has continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Afghanistan, even though we have not for some time recognized that the Taliban or anyone else is capable of speaking for Afghanistan internationally. Under the Bonn Agreement, the Afghans have agreed that the interim Authority will represent Afghanistan in its external relations. The Liaison Office will deal with the interim Authority accordingly when it assumes power on December 22.

Released on December 14, 2001

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