August 15, 2021 – 20:01
The top US diplomat described the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the imminent fall of Kabul into their hands as “an extremely sad development”. He said US forces were working to oust all Americans and Afghans working for the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the security of U.S. personnel, some of whom are still at the embassy, as well as Afghan nationals who have assisted the U.S. military, was a “primary task.” He dismissed criticism that Washington was unprepared for the rapid downfall of Afghan forces.
The United States “will do everything it can, as long as it can, to get them (out of Afghanistan) if that’s what they want,” Mr Blinken told CNN.
“We have not asked the Taliban for anything,” Mr Blinken added. “We have told them (the Taliban) that if they interfere in our personnel, in our operations, while we are continuing with the withdrawal, they will get a quick and decisive response,” he added.
On Sunday, a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, told VOA that the evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul was “in progress”.
The official also said that thousands of other American troops are arriving in Afghanistan and that they have the situation under “control” of both the area around the embassy and Hamid Karzai International Airport, located outside Kabul.
Another senior administration official told VOA on Sunday that President Joe Biden, who is spending his last days at Camp David, has been updated with the latest developments from Afghanistan.
“The president has spoken to members of his National Security team about the situation in Afghanistan and will continue to receive updates and information throughout the day,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Saturday, Mr. Biden authorized an additional 1,000 troops to go to Kabul to help secure U.S. facilities and personnel, as well as Afghans working for the United States.
A total of about 4,000 US troops are expected to land in Kabul in the coming days, strengthening the military presence there which in recent days had been reduced to a total of 650 troops. / VOA