Blinken stated the State Division doesn’t have a precise determine on the variety of People nonetheless within the nation, although it’s believed to be “below 200 and sure nearer to 100.” He added that efforts to find out a precise quantity have been sophisticated by “longtime residents of Afghanistan who’ve American passports and are attempting to find out whether or not or not they need to go away.”
“Our dedication to them, and to all People in Afghanistan and all over the place on the planet, continues. The safety and welfare of People overseas stays the State Division’s most important and enduring mission,” Blinken stated. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they need to keep for from time to time in per week or a month or a yr they attain out and say, ‘I’ve modified my thoughts,’ we’ll assist them go away.”
However regardless of the vow to assist, the State Division will droop its diplomatic presence in Kabul and relocate it to Qatar as a result of “unsure safety surroundings 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 People and Afghan allies from the nation. The everlasting withdrawal successfully concluded America’s longest-ever army battle.
Greater than 123,000 folks have been evacuated through the operation, together with 6,000 Americans.
The worldwide group expects Kabul’s airport to reopen “as quickly as potential,” with a small variety of day by day constitution flights to facilitate free journey, in line with Blinken. He reiterated that the Taliban has publicly pledged to permit 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 shall be pushed by one factor solely – our important nationwide pursuits,” Blinken stated.
“If we will work with the brand new Afghan authorities in a manner that helps safe these pursuits, together with the protected return of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. citizen who’s been held hostage within the area since early final yr, and in a manner that brings higher stability to the nation and area and protects the positive factors of the final 20 years, then we’ll do it,” he added. “However we is not going to do it on the premise of belief or religion.”
High Biden administration officers, together with Blinken, have confronted bipartisan criticism over their dealing with of the withdrawal.
Criticism intensified final week after 13 U.S. service members have been killed in a terrorist assault perpetrated by ISIS-Okay, an area 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 reduction funds meant for humanitarian functions.
“America’s work in Afghanistan continues. We now have a plan for what’s subsequent and we’re placing it into motion,” Blinken stated.