Blinken: U.S. Expects Taliban Won’t Seal Off Country After August 31

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the Biden administration anticipated the Taliban would continue to allow people to leave Afghanistan after the United States leaves on August 31.

Anchor Martha Raddatz said, “We know this is a dangerous period. The Pentagon does say that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Kabul airport has already begun. We know more than 100,000 people have already been evacuated. It’s a historic number, which did take an incredible amount of work, but can you get all the American citizens who want to leave and our Afghan allies who are at risk out by the Tuesday deadline? Especially given this threat?”

Blinken said, “We’re doing everything possible to do just that. We have about 300 American citizens left who have indicated to us that they want to leave. We’re very actively working to help them get to the airport, get on a plane and get out of Afghanistan.”

Raddatz said, “The administration keeps saying the commitment to our Afghan allies doesn’t end on the 31st, but your spokesman said the airport will not be open on September 1, and the Taliban can’t secure safety when U.S. forces are present. So how do you think any American citizens or Afghan partners who are left behind will be able to fly out? What would you say to them on how to get out?”

Blinken said, “First, just about 24 hours ago, a very senior Taliban leader spoke on television and on the radio throughout Afghanistan and repeatedly assured the Afghan people that they would be free to travel after August 31.”

He continued, “I’m not saying we should trust the Taliban on anything. I’m simply reporting what one of their senior leaders said to the Afghan people. He specifically cited as well those who worked for Americans and any other afghan for whatever reason.”

Blinken added, “One-hundred-and-fourteen countries have made very clear that it is their expectation that the Taliban will permit freedom of travel going past August 31. So, that is a clear expectation across the entire world, across the entire international community.“

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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