U.S. Personnel Are Leaving the Kabul Embassy, Blinken Says
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will continue to have a scaled back diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that personnel are leaving the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban enters the capital.
“We’re relocating the men and women of our embassy to a location at the airport,” Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That’s why the president sent in a number of forces to make sure that, as we continue to draw down our diplomatic presence, we do it in a safe and orderly fashion and at the same time maintain a core diplomatic presence in Kabul.”
In separate comments to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Blinken said the U.S. will continue to have a “core diplomatic presence” in the country.
After the Taliban’s rapid advance throughout Afghanistan amid the U.S. withdrawal ordered by President Joe Biden, the embassy’s drawdown marks another symbol of retreat after two decades of American and NATO involvement in the country.
U.S. diplomats have been on “ordered departure” from Kabul since April 28, Blinken said on ABC. “But the compound itself -- our folks are leaving there and moving to the airport,” he said.
Biden boosted the U.S. troop deployment to Afghanistan on Saturday to ensure an “orderly and safe drawdown” as Taliban fighters expanded their control of major cities and advanced toward Kabul.
Biden’s authorization on Saturday adds about 1,000 U.S. personnel to the deployment of 3,000 Marines and soldiers announced this week and 1,000 troops already at the airport and the embassy in the Afghan capital, according to a defense official.
The U.S., Canada, Germany, the U.K. and other countries have been preparing to pull their diplomats out from Kabul. U.S. embassy staff in Kabul were told last week to destroy sensitive material.
“I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan -- two Republicans, two Democrats,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.