Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the Taliban have reiterated that they will allow Afghans that have the proper paperwork to “freely depart” Afghanistan.
Blinken made the comments from Doha, where he met with Qatari officials to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Qatar has been a key player in US-Taliban negotiations, and the peace deal that paved the way for the US withdrawal was signed in Doha back in February 2020.
Blinken denied that the Taliban are blocking Americans from leaving the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Over the past few days, reports have said there are about 1,000 people waiting to leave on several charter planes from the Mazar-i-Sharif airport, including a few dozen US citizens.
Blinken said the US has identified a “relatively” small number of Americans who are trying to leave out of Mazar-i-Sharif. Members of Congress have accused the Taliban of blocking the people from leaving, but Blinken said many of the people trying to board the flights were lacking the proper travel documents.
“It’s my understanding is that the Taliban has not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said those without valid documents, at this point, can’t leave,” Blinken said. “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go.”
On Sunday, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the US believes there are about 100 US citizens left in Afghanistan. On Monday, the State Department said it “facilitated” the evacuation of four US citizens who left Afghanistan by land into a neighboring country, although some organizers of the evacuation say the State Department did not help.