Insight Online News
Washington/Kabul, Aug 31 : US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged ongoing support to the “small number of Americans” still in Afghanistan after the last US troops departed the country on Monday.
Blinken said the State Department does not have an exact figure on the number of Americans still in the country, and added it is believed to be “under 200 and likely closer to 100”.
“We made extraordinary efforts to give Americans every opportunity to depart the country – in many cases talking, and sometimes walking them into the airport,” he said in a briefing on Monday.
He said about 6,000 Americans have been evacuated.
He added that efforts to determine an exact number were complicated by “longtime residents of Afghanistan who have American passports and are trying to determine whether or not they want to leave.”
“Our commitment to them, and to all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world, continues. The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission,” Blinken said. “If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now and then in a week or a month or a year they reach out and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help them leave.”
He said the State Department will suspend its diplomatic presence in Kabul and relocate it to Qatar due to the “uncertain security environment and political situation in Afghanistan,” said Blinken. He added that it was the “prudent step to take.”
“For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan, including consular affairs, administering humanitarian assistance, and working with allies, partners, and regional and international stakeholders to coordinate our engagement and messaging to the Taliban. Our team there will be led by Ian McCary, who has served as our deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan for this past year,” he added.