New chapter of US “engagement with Afghanistan has begun” – Blinken after final troops withdrawals
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Mandatory credit: US Department of State
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared a new chapter for US engagement with Afghanistan in Washington DC on Monday.
“A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun, it’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy,” said Blinken.
“The military mission is over, a new diplomatic mission has begun,” he went on to say.
The Secretary of State also confirmed that US diplomats have left Kabul and that less than 200 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan, remain in the country.
Taliban forces launched an offensive on Afghan government forces after US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in April, with a deadline of September 11, 2021.
The pace of the Taliban offensive beat US intelligence estimates, who according to a statement made by a US defence official on August 11, were expected to potentially takeover Kabul within 90 days.
On August 15, just days after the claim, Taliban forces took control of Kabul, a number of major cities and captured key border crossings. Former president Ashraf Ghani also fled the country and stepped down from his formal government leadership role.
Following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, US and coalition forces scrambled to conduct an evacuation operation amid a tense environment, meeting the exit deadline of August 31, as agreed upon with the Taliban, and ending 20 years of military occupation within the country.
SOT, Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State: “Flights have ended and our troops have departed Afghanistan. A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun, it’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over, a new diplomatic mission has begun.”
SOT, Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State: “So here’s our plan for the days and weeks ahead. First, we built a new team to help lead this new mission. As of today, we suspended our diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar, which will soon be formally notified to Congress. Given the uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take.”
SOT, Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State: “Second, we will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose. Let me talk briefly about the Americans who remain in Afghanistan. We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country, in many cases talking and sometimes walking them into the airport. Of those who self-identified as Americans in Afghanistan who are considering leaving the country, we’ve thus far received confirmation that about 6,000 have been evacuated or otherwise departed. This number will likely continue to grow as our outreach and arrivals continue.”
SOT, Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State: “We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200 and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave. We’re trying to determine exactly how many. We’re going through manifests, and calling and texting through our lists. And we’ll have more details to share as soon as possible. Part of the challenge with fixing a precise number is that there are long time residents of Afghanistan who have American passports, and who were trying to determine whether or not they wanted to leave. Many are dual citizen Americans with deep roots and extended families in Afghanistan, who resided there for many years. For many, it’s a painful choice. Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world continues.”
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Video ID: 20210831-007
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