Australia to close Kabul embassy this week

·2-min read

Australia will close its embassy in Afghanistan within days as international troops withdraw from the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Kabul and promised the embassy would reopen once it was safe.

In the meantime, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials will visit Afghanistan from other residential posts in the region.

"It is Australia's expectation this measure will be temporary and we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances permit," Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

"This form of diplomatic representation is common practice around the world. It does not alter our commitment to Afghanistan or its people."

The embassy has been open since 2006. Its location is rarely made public, due to security concerns.

Mr Morrison said the departure of Australian and allied forces over the next few months brought with it an increasingly uncertain security environment.

"The government has been advised that security arrangements could not be provided to support our ongoing diplomatic presence," he said.

Labor has called on the government to outline the factors behind its decision and whether alternative options were considered, such as co-locating a diplomatic presence with other like-minded nations.

The prime minister has previously promised Australia would continue supporting Afghanistan through its diplomatic presence, cooperation on development and continued people-to-people links.

"The Morrison government should explain how it will now meet these commitments," Labor senator Penny Wong said.

"We are also disappointed that after 20 years of successive Australian military, diplomatic and development engagement in Afghanistan, there was no bipartisan consultation on this important decision.

"This will have a direct negative impact on Australia's ability to deliver and monitor our ongoing development partnership with Afghanistan."

The embassy in Kabul will close on Friday, May 28.

The final 80 remaining Australian troops will pull out of Afghanistan by September, in line with America's timeline to end its "forever war" before the 20-year anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

The United States began its formal withdrawal earlier this month.

"Australia remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and to helping preserve the gains of the past 20 years," Mr Morrison said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne visited Kabul earlier this month, reaffirming Australia's support for the Afghanistan government.

"Australia remains committed to the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, and we will continue to support the stability and development of Afghanistan in concert with other nations," the prime minister said.