05:39 - Source: CNN
CNN gets access to US military base seized by the Taliban
CNN  — 

The Biden administration is working to finalize an agreement with Qatar to temporarily house thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States and their families and are fleeing their country as the security situation deteriorates, according to a source familiar with the ongoing discussions. The source said it could be as many as 8,000 Afghans but cautioned the deal is not final.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN, “We are evaluating all available options. We have no announcements to make on third-country relocation sites for Afghan SIV applicants.”

Should an agreement be reached, an initial group of around 1,000 to 2,000 Afghans is expected in Doha “soon,” the source said

The Biden administration has been considering using third countries to process the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and on Thursday the Pentagon announced it would send around 1,000 troops to Qatar in the coming days to facilitate the processing. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with his Qatari counterpart on Thursday and the State Department said he thanked Qatar for supporting “U.S. efforts to provide safety and security to Afghan nationals.”

Qatar’s defense minister is expected in Washington next week for talks.

A Qatari spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pressed Friday evening by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on the Biden administration’s plan to house Afghans in Qatar, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger – who served as an Air Force pilot in Afghanistan and Iraq – said, “It’s great the Qatar option is possibly there.”

“The administration needs to continue to lean forward as hard as they can,” Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger previously said he opposed the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and raised concerns that the Afghan government would collapse after US troops left.

“There is a lot of Afghans that basically fought with us that are going to die and have died already because of lack of planning, and it’s sad,” he said.

“Let’s save as many as we can because it makes a difference, but I don’t think it’s going to lessen the stain on us right now.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Rachel Janfaza contributed to this report.