Shortly aft the past U.S. troops near Afghanistan, the caput of authorities outlined a program to usage diplomacy to effort to extract remaining Americans and Afghan allies.
Aug. 30, 2021, 8:41 p.m. ET
The pursuing is simply a transcript of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s remarks connected Monday astir the U.S. program for engagement with Afghanistan aft evacuations ended and the last American troops departed.
Good evening, everyone.
Eighteen days ago, the United States and our allies began our evacuation and relocation cognition successful Kabul. As you conscionable heard from the Pentagon a fewer hours ago, that cognition was completed. More than 123,000 radical person been safely flown retired of Afghanistan. That includes astir 6,000 American citizens.
This has been a monolithic military, diplomatic and humanitarian undertaking. One of the astir hard successful the nation’s past and an bonzer feat of logistics and coordination nether immoderate of the astir challenging circumstances imaginable. Many, galore radical made this possible.
I privation to commend our outstanding diplomats who worked astir the clock, and astir the world, to coordinate the operation. They volunteered for work astatine the Kabul airport. They flew to transit countries to assistance process thousands of Afghans bound for the United States. They deployed to ports of introduction and American subject bases to invited Afghans to their caller homes.
They staffed a 24/7 task unit present successful Washington, overseen by Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon. And they built a database of Americans perchance seeking to permission Afghanistan, past worked to interaction each azygous 1 of them, repeatedly, making 55,000 telephone calls, sending 33,000 emails since Aug. 14.
They solved occupation aft occupation to support the ngo moving forward. They did this due to the fact that for the thousands of State Department and U.S.A.I.D. employees who served successful Afghanistan successful the past 20 years, this evacuation cognition was precise personal. Many worked manus successful manus for years with Afghan partners, galore of whom became trusted friends. We besides mislaid cherished members of our overseas work assemblage successful Afghanistan. We’ll ne'er hide them.
Helping Americans, our overseas partners who person been by our broadside for 20 years and Afghans astatine hazard astatine this captious infinitesimal was much than conscionable a high-stakes duty for our team. It was a ineffable duty. And the satellite saw however our diplomats roseate to the situation with determination and heart.
U.S. work members successful Kabul did heroic enactment securing the airport, protecting civilians of galore nationalities, including tens of thousands of Afghans, and airlifting them out. They’re besides providing captious enactment close present caring for Afghans connected subject bases successful Europe, the Middle East and present successful the United States. We’ve seen pictures of U.S. work members astatine the Kabul airdrome cradling babies, comforting families. That’s the benignant of compassion and courageousness our men and women successful azygous exemplify.
They carried retired this ngo nether the changeless menace of violent violence. And 4 days ago, 11 Marines, 1 Navy medic and 1 worker were killed by a termination bomber astatine the airdrome gate, arsenic good arsenic scores of Afghans. Nearly each of them were successful their aboriginal 20s. Just babies oregon toddlers connected Sept. 11, 2001. These deaths are a devastating nonaccomplishment for our country. We astatine the State Department consciousness them deeply.
We person a peculiar enslaved with the Marines. The archetypal idiosyncratic that you spot erstwhile you sojourn an American embassy is simply a marine. They defender our diplomatic missions. They support america harmless astir the world. We couldn’t bash our jobs without them. And we volition ne'er hide their sacrifice, nor volition we hide what they achieved. The astir exceptional among america execute a lifetime’s enactment of work successful a abbreviated clip present connected Earth. So it was for our exceptional brothers and sisters who died past week.
Finally, I privation to convey our allies and partners. This cognition was a planetary endeavor successful each way. Many countries stepped up with robust contributions to the airlift, including moving by our broadside astatine the airport. Some are present serving arsenic transit countries, allowing evacuees to beryllium registered and processed connected their mode to their last destinations. Others person agreed to resettle Afghan refugees permanently, and we anticipation much volition bash truthful successful the days and weeks ahead. We’re genuinely grateful for their support.
Now U.S. subject flights person ended. And our troops person departed Afghanistan. A caller section of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s 1 successful which we volition pb with our diplomacy. The subject ngo is over. A caller diplomatic ngo has begun. So present is our program for the days and weeks ahead:
First, we built a caller squad to assistance pb this caller mission. As of today, we suspended our diplomatic beingness successful Kabul and transferred our operations to Doha, Qatar, which volition soon beryllium formally notified to Congress. Given the uncertain information situation and governmental concern successful Afghanistan, it was the prudent measurement to take. And fto maine instrumentality this accidental to convey our outstanding chargé d’affaires successful Kabul, Ambassador Ross Wilson, who came retired of status successful January 2020 to pb our embassy successful Afghanistan and has done exceptional, courageous enactment during a highly challenging time.
For the clip being, we volition usage this station successful Doha to negociate our diplomacy with Afghanistan, including consular affairs, administering humanitarian assistance and moving with allies, partners and determination and planetary stakeholders to coordinate our engagement and messaging to the Taliban. Our squad determination volition beryllium led by Ian McCary, who served arsenic our lawman main of ngo successful Afghanistan for this past year. No one’s amended prepared to bash the job.
Second, we volition proceed our relentless efforts to assistance Americans, overseas nationals and Afghans permission Afghanistan if they choose.
Let maine speech concisely astir the Americans who stay successful Afghanistan.
We made bonzer efforts to springiness Americans each accidental to depart the country. In galore cases, talking and sometimes walking them into the airport. Of those who self-identified arsenic Americans successful Afghanistan who are considering leaving the country, we’ve frankincense acold received confirmation that astir 6,000 person been evacuated oregon different departed. This fig volition apt proceed to turn arsenic our outreach and arrivals continue.
We judge determination are inactive a tiny fig of Americans, nether 200 and apt person to 100, who stay successful Afghanistan and privation to leave. We’re trying to find precisely however many. We’re going done manifests and calling and texting done our lists, and we volition person much details to stock arsenic soon arsenic possible. Part of the situation with fixing a precise fig is that determination are longtime residents of Afghanistan who person American passports and who are trying to find whether oregon not they wanted to leave. Many are dual national Americans with heavy roots and extended families successful Afghanistan who resided determination for galore years. For many, it’s a achy choice. Our committedness to them and to each Americans successful Afghanistan and everyplace successful the satellite continues.
The extortion and payment of Americans overseas remains the State Department’s astir captious and enduring mission. If an American successful Afghanistan tells america that they privation to enactment for now, and past successful a week oregon a period oregon a twelvemonth they scope retired and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we volition assistance them leave. Additionally, we’ve worked intensely to evacuate and relocate Afghans who worked alongside america and are astatine peculiar hazard of reprisal. We’ve gotten galore out, but galore are inactive there. We volition support moving to assistance them. Our committedness to them has nary deadline.
Third, we volition clasp the Taliban to its pledge to fto radical freely depart Afghanistan. The Taliban is committed to fto anyone with due documents permission the state successful a harmless and orderly manner. They said this privately and publically galore times. On Friday, a elder Taliban authoritative said it again connected tv and radio. And I quote: ‘Any Afghans whitethorn permission the country, including those who worked for Americans if they privation and for immoderate crushed determination whitethorn be.’
More than fractional the world’s countries person joined america successful insisting that the Taliban fto radical question extracurricular Afghanistan freely. As of today, much than 100 countries person said that they expect the Taliban to grant question authorizations by our countries. And conscionable a fewer abbreviated hours ago, the United Nations information counsel passed a solution that enshrines that responsibility, laying the groundwork to clasp the Taliban accountable if they renege.
So the planetary chorus connected this is strong, and it volition enactment strong. We volition clasp the Taliban to their committedness connected state of question for overseas nationals, visa holders, at-risk Afghans.
Fourth, we volition enactment to unafraid their harmless passage. This morning, I met with the overseas ministers of each the G7 countries — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan — arsenic good arsenic Qatar, Turkey, the European Union and the secretary-general of NATO. We discussed however we volition enactment unneurotic to facilitate harmless question retired of Afghanistan, including by reopening Kabul’s civilian airdrome arsenic soon arsenic possible, and we precise overmuch admit the efforts of Qatar and Turkey successful peculiar to marque this happen. This would alteration a tiny fig of regular charter flights, which is simply a cardinal for anyone who wants to depart from Afghanistan moving forward.
Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan
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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.
We’re besides moving to place ways to enactment Americans, ineligible imperishable residents and Afghans who person worked with america and who whitethorn take to depart via overland routes. We person nary illusion that immoderate of this volition beryllium casual oregon rapid. This volition beryllium an wholly antithetic signifier from the evacuation that conscionable concluded. It volition instrumentality clip to enactment done a caller acceptable of challenges. But we volition enactment astatine it.
John Bass, our erstwhile ambassador to Afghanistan, who returned to Kabul 2 weeks agone to assistance pb our evacuation efforts astatine the airport, volition spearhead our ongoing enactment crossed the State Department to assistance American citizens and imperishable residents, citizens of allied nations, peculiar migrant visa applicants and Afghans astatine precocious hazard if immoderate of those radical privation to depart Afghanistan. We’re profoundly grateful for each that John did successful Kabul, and for his committedness to this mission, arsenic good arsenic the bonzer officers who are serving by his side.
Fifth, we volition enactment focused connected counterterrorism. The Taliban has made a committedness to forestall violent groups from utilizing Afghanistan arsenic a basal for outer operations that could endanger the United States oregon our allies, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban’s sworn enemy, ISIS-K. Here, too, we volition clasp them accountable to that commitment. But portion we person expectations of the Taliban, that doesn’t mean we volition trust connected the Taliban. We volition stay vigilant successful monitoring threats ourselves and volition support robust counterterrorism capabilities successful the portion to neutralize those threats if necessary, arsenic we demonstrated successful the past fewer days by striking ISIS facilitators and imminent threats successful Afghanistan — and arsenic we bash successful places astir the satellite wherever we bash not person subject forces connected the ground.
Let maine talk straight to our engagement with the Taliban crossed these and different issues. We engaged with the Taliban during the past fewer weeks to alteration our evacuation operations. Going forward, immoderate engagement with a Taliban-led authorities successful Kabul volition beryllium driven by 1 happening only: our captious nationalist interest. If we tin enactment with the caller Afghan authorities successful a mode that helps unafraid those interests, including the harmless instrumentality of Mark Frerichs, a U.S. national who has been held hostage successful the portion since aboriginal past year, and successful a mode that brings greater stableness to the state and portion and protects the gains of the past 2 decades, we volition bash it.
But we volition not bash it connected the ground of spot oregon faith. Every measurement we instrumentality volition beryllium based not connected what the Taliban-led authorities says but what it does to unrecorded up to its commitments. The Taliban seeks planetary legitimacy and support. Our connection is immoderate legitimacy and immoderate enactment volition person to beryllium earned. The Taliban tin bash that by gathering commitments and obligations connected state of travel, respecting the basal rights of the Afghan people, including women and minorities, upholding its commitments connected counterterrorism, not carrying retired reprisal unit against those who take to enactment successful Afghanistan, and forming an inclusive authorities that tin conscionable the needs and bespeak the aspirations of the Afghan people.
Sixth, we volition proceed our humanitarian assistance to the radical of Afghanistan. The struggle has taken a unspeakable toll connected the Afghan people. Millions are internally displaced. Millions are facing hunger, adjacent starvation. The Covid-19 pandemic has besides deed Afghanistan hard. The United States volition proceed to enactment humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. Consistent with our sanctions connected the Taliban, the assistance volition not travel done the authorities but alternatively done autarkic organizations specified arsenic U.N. agencies and N.G.O.s. And we expect that those efforts volition not beryllium impeded by the Taliban oregon anyone else.
And seventh, we volition proceed our wide planetary diplomacy crossed each these issues and galore others. We judge we tin execute acold much and exert acold greater leverage erstwhile we enactment successful coordination with our allies and partners. Over the past 2 weeks, we’ve had a bid of intensive diplomatic engagements with allies and partners to program and coordinate the mode up successful Afghanistan. I met with the overseas ministers of NATO and the G7. I’ve spoken one-on-one with dozens of my counterparts.
Last week, president Biden met with the leaders of the G7 countries, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has been convening a radical of 28 allies and partners from each regions of the satellite each different day. Going forward, we’ll coordinate intimately with countries successful the portion and astir the satellite arsenic good arsenic with starring organizations, N.G.O.s and the backstage sector. Our allies and partners stock our objectives and are committed to moving with us. I’ll person much to accidental connected these matters successful the coming days.
The main constituent I privation to thrust location present contiguous is that America’s enactment successful Afghanistan continues. We person a program for what’s next. We’re putting it into action. This infinitesimal besides demands reflection. The warfare successful Afghanistan was a 20-year endeavor. We indispensable larn its lessons and let those lessons to signifier however we deliberation astir cardinal questions of nationalist information and overseas policy. We beryllium that to aboriginal diplomats, policymakers, subject leaders, work members. We beryllium that to the American people.
But arsenic we do, we volition beryllium relentlessly focused connected contiguous and the future. We’ll marque definite we’re uncovering each accidental to marque bully connected our committedness to the Afghan people, including by welcoming thousands of them into our communities — arsenic the American radical person done galore times earlier — with generosity and grace passim our history.
In this way, we’ll grant each those brave men and women from the United States and galore different countries who risked oregon sacrificed their lives arsenic portion of this agelong mission, close up to today.
Thanks for listening.