Afghanistan: Taliban pledged to let Americans and Afghans leave at risk after August 31

There are still around 1,500 Americans to be evacuated from the country.

The Taliban have pledged to let Americans and Afghans at risk still in Afghanistan go after August 31, said Wednesday, August 25, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken.

“The Taliban have made commitments in public and private to provide and enable safe passage for Americans, other foreigners, and Afghans at risk in the future after August 31,” he said.

There are still around 1,500 Americans to evacuate from Afghanistan according to estimates, the secretary of state said at a press conference.

According to him the countries surrounding Afghanistan are studying “if they can play a role in keeping the airport open once our military contingent leaves or, if necessary, reopen it if it closes for a while”.

Kabul airport secured by 6,000 US troops

“The Taliban have made it clear that they have a strong interest in keeping an airport running. We, and the rest of the international community have a strong stake in this, mainly to ensure that anyone who wants to leave (Afghanistan) can do so after 31 (August) using the airport, ”said Antony Blinken. . 

He did not say whether the United States would maintain a diplomatic presence after August 31, however.

“We are looking at a number of options,” he said on the issue.

Anxiety was still mounting this Wednesday among the thousands of Afghans ready to do anything to flee their country at the hands of the Taliban, after confirmation by US President Joe Biden of the end of the evacuations next week.

Thousands of Afghans have been massed for days in front of the airport of the capital, secured by more than 6,000 American soldiers, in a tense atmosphere. Some camp there with their entire family. They all hope to get into the complex and catch a plane as quickly as possible.

The United States military may be leaving Afghanistan by August 31, but Washington’s efforts to help its citizens and Afghan allies leave the country will continue well beyond that deadline, Biden administration officials said on Wednesday.

With a functioning airport and international pressure, those wishing to depart from Afghanistan will be able to leave, Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued.

“Let me be crystal clear about this: There is no deadline on our work,” Blinken said, stressing that efforts to assist any remaining US citizens or Afghan partners will go beyond the end of the month.

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

The top US diplomat said Washington and its global allies will do everything they can to pressure the Taliban to allow departures after the withdrawal.

Blinken did not provide specifics on how the US would hold the group to its commitments, given its brutal past. Despite his assurances, reports are emerging of rampant abuses by the Taliban as well as public calls for Afghans against heading to the airport.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reiterated Blinken’s message later on Wednesday.

“We are looking at a range of options for how we can continue to provide consular support and facilitate departures for those who wish to leave after August 31,” Psaki said.

“And our expectation and the expectation of the international community is that people who want to leave Afghanistan after the US military departs should be able to do so.”

For his part, Blinken said both the international community and the Taliban have an interest in keeping the airport in Kabul open in the future.

Antony Blinken said there is an “active effort” by regional countries to play a role in keeping the airport in Kabul open after the departure of US troops, set for August 31.

“That’s happening very actively right now,” he told reporters, without identifying the countries involved in the effort.

Earlier this year, before the Taliban takeover, Turkey proposed sending troops to secure the airport after the US withdrawal, but Ankara began pulling its troops out of the country on Wednesday.

The Taliban gained control over Afghanistan in a lightning offensive earlier this month as the deadline for US troop withdrawal loomed. The group captured Kabul on August 15, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, spelling the collapse of the Afghan government.

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