US: Taliban must let all who want to leave Afghanistan do so after withdrawal

Washington, Aug 25 (EFE).- The United States on Wednesday reiterated its aim to comply with the Aug. 31 date for the final withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan but it warned the Taliban that they must abide by their promises and thereafter must allow anyone who wants to leave the country to do so.

“Let me be crystal clear about this: There is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American citizens who decide they want to leave to do so along with the many Afghans who have stood by us over these many years and want to leave and have been unable to do so,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“That effort will continue every day past August 31st,” he added.

Blinken made his remarks at a press conference at the State Department at which he discussed the efforts under way to complete the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, the date set by President Joe Biden.

The US leader reaffirmed his commitment to the Aug. 31 withdrawal date on Tuesday at a special meeting of the G7 nations, saying that he would pull all US military forces out of the Central Asian country despite pressure from European partners to postpone the military exit from Afghanistan.

Blinken warned that the security risks are increasing as the days go by.

The top US diplomat said that “It’s hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort. We are operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K (Islamic State terrorist) attack. We’re taking every precaution, but this is very high risk.”

US troops are in control of the Kabul airport, where scenes of desperation continue to occur among the thousands of people trying to board the flights out of the country, given that once the US troops leave the site the operations there will be managed by the Taliban.

Blinken insisted on the public and private commitments by the Taliban to guarantee “safe transit” to the airport, despite reports from Kabul that Taliban fighters have been harassing and blocking Afghans trying to get to the airport.

On Wednesday, the political spokesman for the Taliban, Suhail Shaheen, said on Twitter that “foreign troops should withdraw by the deadline. It will pave the way for resumption of civilian flights. People with legal documents can travel through commercial flights after 31 August.”

To discuss the delicate situation in the Afghan capital, CIA Director William J. Burns on Monday met secretly in Kabul with the de facto leader of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, The Washington Post reported.

Blinken said, in addition, that US troops have brought 4,500 US citizens out of Afghanistan from among the 6,000 who it had been calculated on Aug. 14 wanted to leave the country.

Of the remaining Americans, the US Embassy is in “direct” contact with 500, to whom it will offer instructions on how to get to the airport and it is trying to contact the other 1,000.

On Tuesday, about 100 aircraft from the US and other members of the international coalition that fought in Afghanistan took off from Kabul carrying a total of 19,000 people, the White House said Wednesday, raising the number of people evacuated in the last 10 days to 82,300.

Washington began the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan after fighting and operating in the country for the past 20 years, in May, but it was forced to accelerate the evacuation of Americans and US allies who remained there after the rapid advance of the Taliban, who on Aug. 15 took control in Kabul and now dominate virtually the entire national territory.


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