Up to 1500 Americans still left in Afghanistan: Blinken

Aneela SiddiquiWeb Editor

26th Aug, 2021. 10:49 am

WASHINGTON: According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, up to 1,500 Americans may still need to be evacuated from the land of Afghanistan, and the Taliban have agreed to allow some departures after US forces flee on August 31.

Blinken told reporters that out of the 6,000 Americans at least 4,500 Americans wanted to leave Afghanistan.

Officials have been in “direct communication” with another 500 Americans who want to leave and have given them “specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.”

Officials were “aggressively reaching out” to the remaining 1,000 Americans to “determine whether they still want to leave,” he said.

“Some may no longer be in the country,” Blinken said. “Some may have claimed to be Americans but turn out not to be. Some may choose to stay.”

“Of the approximately 1,000, we believe the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is significantly lower,” he said.

The Taliban has agreed to allow Americans and “at-risk” Afghan nationals to depart after President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline for a full withdrawal of US troops, according to the US secretary of state.

“The Taliban have made public and private commitments to provide and permit safe passage for Americans, for third country nationals and for Afghans at risk going forward past August 31,” he said.

“They have a responsibility to hold to that commitment and provide safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave the country, not just for the duration of our evacuation relocation mission but for every day thereafter.”

When asked what is being done to keep Kabul airport operating when US troops withdraw, Blinken said regional countries were considering “whether they can play a role in keeping the airport open.

“The Taliban have made clear that they have a strong interest in having a functioning airport,” he said.

Blinken said the US “will judge our engagement with any Taliban-led government in Afghanistan based on one simple proposition — our interests.” when asked about future relations with the Taliban.

“The nature of any relationship depends on the actions and conduct of the Taliban,” he said, citing a need for the fundamentalist Islamic group to “uphold the basic rights of the Afghan people” and not allow the country to be used “as a launching pad for terrorist attacks.”

“If it makes good on its commitments to allow people who want to leave Afghanistan to leave, that’s a government we can work with,” he said.

“If it doesn’t, we will make sure that we use every appropriate tool at our disposal to isolate that government and, as I said before, Afghanistan will be a pariah.”



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