Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that it was “not likely” that the US would have an “on-the-ground” diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the August 31st withdrawal deadline.
US officials told The New York Times that the US might open a diplomatic facility in the UAE or Pakistan to help Afghan refugees process their paperwork. Blinken said that the US would still help people leave Afghanistan after the withdrawal.
“Our commitment to continue to help people leave Afghanistan who want to leave and who are not out by September 1st, that endures,” Blinken said. “There’s no deadline on that effort. And we have ways, we have mechanisms to help facilitate the ongoing departure of people from Afghanistan if they choose to leave.”
He said the US and over 100 other countries released a joint statement that said the Taliban has assured they will allow foreign nationals and Afghans with the proper paperwork to leave Afghanistan after the US withdrawal. “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 statement said.
The lack of a US diplomatic presence in Afghanistan raises questions about whether Washington will recognize a Taliban-led Afghan government. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday that the US is in “no rush” to recognize the Taliban. “There is no rush for recognition of any sort by the United States or any international partners we have talked to,” she said.
The Taliban take over spoiled US plans to maintain a troop presence at its embassy in Kabul, which is now closed. The Pentagon initially planned to keep about 650 troops at the facility, but now, the US will fully withdraw its military.