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Blinken Says U.S. Diplomatic Presence in Kabul ‘Not Likely’ after Withdrawal

Antony J. Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of state at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 19, 2021. (Alex Edelman/Reuters)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will likely not have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American forces on Tuesday.

“That’s not likely to happen,” Blinken told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday. “What is going to happen is that our commitment to continue to help people leave Afghanistan who want to leave and who are not out by September 1st, that endures.”

Blinken added, “And we have ways, we have mechanisms to help facilitate the ongoing departure of people from Afghanistan if they choose to leave.”

The Taliban have given “assurances” that foreign citizens and Afghans will be able to leave the country, according to a U.S. State Department press release in conjunction with other nations.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the State Department said. “We have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that [Afghans] can travel to our respective countries.”

Americans and Afghan allies have faced hurdles reaching the Kabul airport in their attempts to leave after the Taliban took control of the city in mid-August. Militants from ISIS-K, Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate, killed 13 U.S. service members and close to 200 Afghans at the airport in suicide bombings on Thursday.

“We have about 300 American citizens left who have indicated to us that they want to leave,” Blinken said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, adding that the administration his working to get them out of Afghanistan.

U.S. Central Command announced that a potential car bomb operated by ISIS-K was destroyed in a drone strike on Sunday. The car bomb posed an “imminent” threat to the airport, a CENTCOM spokesperson said.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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