Secretary of State Tony Blinken pledged ongoing support to what he described because the “small variety of Americans” nonetheless in Afghanistan after the final U.S. troops departed the nation on Monday.
Blinken stated the State Department doesn’t have an actual determine on the variety of Americans nonetheless in the nation, although it’s believed to be “below 200 and certain nearer to 100.” He added that efforts to decide an actual quantity had been sophisticated by “longtime residents of Afghanistan who’ve American passports and try to decide whether or not or not they need to go away.”
“Our dedication to them, and to all Americans in Afghanistan and all over the place in the world, continues. The safety and welfare of Americans overseas stays the State Department’s most important and enduring mission,” Blinken stated. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they need to keep for at times in per week or a month or a yr they attain out and say, ‘I’ve modified my thoughts,’ we will help them go away.”
But regardless of the vow to help, the State Department will droop its diplomatic presence in Kabul and relocate it to Qatar due to the “unsure safety setting and political scenario in Afghanistan,” stated Blinken. He added that it was the “prudent step to take.”
Blinken spoke shortly after the Biden administration confirmed the troop departures following a frantic weeks-long effort to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the nation. The everlasting withdrawal successfully concluded America’s longest-ever navy battle.
More than 123,000 individuals had been evacuated through the operation, together with 6,000 American residents.
The worldwide neighborhood expects Kabul’s airport to reopen “as quickly as attainable,” with a small variety of day by day constitution flights to facilitate free journey, in accordance to Blinken. He reiterated that the Taliban has publicly pledged to enable free journey, uphold the rights of its residents, and stop Afghanistan from turning into a protected haven for terrorist teams.
“Any engagement with the Taliban-led authorities in Kabul will be pushed by one factor solely – our important nationwide pursuits,” Blinken stated.
“If we are able to work with the new Afghan authorities in a approach that helps safe these pursuits, together with the protected return of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. citizen who’s been held hostage in the area since early final yr, and in a approach that brings larger stability to the nation and area and protects the beneficial properties of the final 20 years, then we will do it,” he added. “But we will not do it on the premise of belief or religion.”
Top Biden administration officers, together with Blinken, have confronted bipartisan criticism over their dealing with of the withdrawal.
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Criticism intensified final week after 13 U.S. service members had been killed in a terrorist assault perpetrated by ISIS-Okay, a neighborhood affiliate of the Islamic State Group. The Pentagon has carried out a number of retaliatory strikes in opposition to ISIS-Okay targets in current days.
Blinken stated it might work intently with worldwide allies on coverage towards the Taliban-led authorities in Afghanistan, together with efforts to make sure the group doesn’t entry aid funds meant for humanitarian functions.
“America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We have a plan for what’s subsequent and we’re placing it into motion,” Blinken stated.