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Blinken pledges help to Individuals left in Afghanistan after withdrawal: ‘We’ll assist them depart’

Secretary of State Tony Blinken pledged ongoing help to what he described because the “small variety of Individuals” nonetheless in Afghanistan after the final U.S. troops departed the nation on Monday.

Blinken stated the State Division doesn’t have a precise determine on the variety of Individuals nonetheless within the nation, although it’s believed to be “below 200 and certain nearer to 100.” He added that efforts to find out a precise quantity had been difficult by “longtime residents of Afghanistan who’ve American passports and are attempting to find out whether or not or not they wish to depart.”

“Our dedication to them, and to all Individuals in Afghanistan and all over the place on the earth, continues. The safety and welfare of Individuals overseas stays the State Division’s most significant and enduring mission,” Blinken stated. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they wish to keep for from time to time in every week or a month or a 12 months they attain out and say, ‘I’ve modified my thoughts,’ we are going to assist them depart.”

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 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 Individuals and Afghan allies from the nation. The everlasting withdrawal successfully concluded America’s longest-ever army battle.

Greater than 123,000 folks had been evacuated in the course of the operation, together with 6,000 Americans. 

The worldwide neighborhood expects Kabul’s airport to reopen “as quickly as attainable,” with a small variety of every day constitution flights to facilitate free journey, based on Blinken. He reiterated that the Taliban has publicly pledged to permit free journey, uphold the rights of its residents, and forestall Afghanistan from turning into a protected haven for terrorist teams.

“Any engagement with the Taliban-led authorities in Kabul might be pushed by one factor solely – our important nationwide pursuits,” Blinken stated.

“If we will work with the brand new Afghan authorities in a means 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 12 months, and in a means that brings better stability to the nation and area and protects the beneficial properties of the final 20 years, then we are going to do it,” he added. “However we won’t do it on the idea of belief or religion.”

High 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-Ok, an area affiliate of the Islamic State Group. The Pentagon has carried out a number of retaliatory strikes towards ISIS-Ok targets in latest 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.

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