Colombia to host Afghans making their way to the United States

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Colombia's President Ivan Duque speaks after the arrival of a shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bogota, Colombia July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Nathalia Angarita

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BOGOTA, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Colombia will temporarily host Afghans fleeing their country's takeover by the Taliban while they await approval to enter the United States, President Ivan Duque said on Friday.

Duque did not specify how many Afghans would transit through Colombia. U.S. and Colombian media outlets have reported that the number will be about 4,000.

U.S. President Joe Biden is facing criticism of his handling of the chaotic American pullout from Afghanistan. Critics accuse his administration of misjudging the speed with which the Taliban would take over and botching the planning of evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies after the 20-year U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

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"Colombia is also joining the group of allied countries which will offer support to the United States so those citizens of Afghanistan who gave help to the United States for years and who are in the process of registering and making a migrant transfer to that country can be in Colombia temporarily," Duque said in joint remarks with U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg.

Further details will be provided in the coming days, Duque said.

The United States will pay the cost of the Afghans' stay in the Andean country, Goldberg said, thanking Colombia for its help with the effort and also for its generosity in receiving some 2 million Venezuelan migrants.

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Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Will Dunham

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