Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation” that he was discussing the current Taliban takeover of Afghanistan a week ago with the president who he identified as “Karzai.”
Afghanistan’s President is Ashraf Ghani, Hamid Karzai served as president from December 2001 to September 2014.
Partial transcript as follows:
MAJOR GARRETT: The president said that we have an agreement with the Taliban. Mr. Secretary, that implies we are negotiating with them. Does that not confer upon them already legitimacy?
BLINKEN: No, we have- we’ve had for a long time contact with the Taliban, both at a political level in Doha, going back- going back some years, as well as now on the ground in Kabul, a working relationship in order to de-conflict, in order to work through any problems with people getting to the airport. That’s been very important to making sure that we can actually advance our own interests in getting people out safely and effectively as possible. So that’s the nature of the relationship.
GARRETT: And someone in our audience might listen to you, Mr. Secretary, and say, “Oh, so we have to ask the Taliban for permission for American citizens to leave.” True or not true?
BLINKEN: They- they are in control of Kabul. That is the reality. That’s the reality that- that we have to deal with.
GARRETT: How comfortable are you with that, Mr. Secretary?
BLINKEN: My- what- I’m what I’m focused on, what we’re all focused on is getting people out and making sure that we’re doing everything possible to do that. And in this case, it is, I think, a requirement of the job to be in contact with- with the Taliban, which controls Kabul. And look, what we’ve seen, Major is also pretty remarkable. Go back a week. The government fell. And by the way, I was on the phone with- with President Karzai the day before when he was telling me his intent, as he put it, to fight to the death. Well, the next day he was gone. The military collapsed. And in the space of that week, our military went in, secured the airport, got our embassy to safety at the airport from the embassy compound, began this remarkable evacuation effort. And as I said, we had about 8,000 people out just in the last 24 hours. Since going back to the end of July it’s 30,000 people. And that’s quite extraordinary. It doesn’t just happen. A tremendous amount of planning and effort went into that, including a lot of preplanning. And that’s what we’re focused on now, getting that mission done.
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