Secretary of State Antony Blinken didn’t deny on Sunday that the U.S. has to ask the Taliban for permission to get Americans out of Afghanistan as the developing situation in Kabul continues to present obstacles for evacuations.
‘Someone in our audience might listen to you, Mr. Secretary, and say, ‘Oh, so we have to ask the Taliban for permission for American citizens to leave.’ True or not true?’ CBS News’ Face the Nation fill in host Major Garrett asked Blinken of the ‘agreement’ between the Islamic militant group and Washington.
‘They are in control of Kabul. That is the reality,’ Blinken responded without denying the claim Garrett detailed.
‘That’s the reality that we have to deal with,’ he added.
‘How comfortable are you with that, Mr. Secretary?’ the host questioned the State Department chief.
He continued to deflect in saying: ‘What I am focused on, what we’re all focused on, is getting people out and making sure that we’re doing everything possible to do that.’
‘And in this case, it is, I think, a requirement of the job to be in contact with the Taliban, which controls Kabul,’ Blinken explained.
The comments from Blinken are surprising considering the current administration’s harsh criticism of predecessor Donald Trump’s team for negotiating with the Taliban about terms for withdrawal during his time in office.
Blinken’s comments are in response to questions over why Biden would trust the Taliban to just let Americans gain passage to the Kabul airport for evacuation.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan detailed to NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that the president has an agreement with the Taliban that they will allow all American citizens access to the evacuation site – including through any checkpoints along their travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
But critics wonder if that is actually happening, especially after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed over the weekend that Americans in Kabul are being beaten and assaulted by Taliban fighters.
On many occasions, Biden and his team have assured Americans stranded in Afghanistan that if they have the correct paperwork and passport, the Taliban has agreed to give them passage to the airport.
Blinken defended the fact that the administration and Pentagon has to speak with Taliban leaders in order to coordinate evacuations, claiming they are now in control of Afghanistan.
He assured, however, that this doesn’t give the militant group legitimacy.