Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States was evacuating its staff from the embassy in Kabul, although he did not say whether the embassy would be closed.
âWe are working to make sure our staff are safe,â Blinken said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday. âWe are moving the men and women from our embassy to a location at the airport. This is why the president has sent a number of forces, to ensure that as we continue to reduce our diplomatic presence, we do so in a safe and orderly manner, âhe added. .
The Taliban, a designated terrorist group, surrounded Kabul over the weekend. The Afghan government and the Taliban both confirmed on Sunday that talks are underway to transfer power peacefully.
In about a week, the group took control of much of the country, seizing many provincial capitals as the Afghan army drove en masse to many places.
When asked in the ABC News segment if the U.S. Embassy was shutting down in its entirety, Blinken did not give a direct response.
Although the United States has long sought to withdraw its presence from the South Asian country after invading it shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Taliban’s rapid advances in Kabul have been compared to the fall of Saigon. when Vietnamese Communists took control of the country in 1975, providing a number of enduring images of embassy staff fleeing the country in helicopters.
âLet’s take a step back. It’s clearly not Saigon, âBlinken told the ABC News segment, pushing back the comparison. The invasion of Afghanistan, he added, succeeded in eliminating Osama bin Laden and reducing the capabilities of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
The fact that the United States killed Bin Laden, who has been accused of being a conductor in the 9/11 attacks, “should resonate very loudly,” Blinken said later.
Late Sunday night local time, the Taliban released an online statement saying the terrorist fighters had been ordered to enter Kabul.
“Taliban fighters must be on standby at all entrances to Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.
US diplomats were seen evacuated from their embassy by helicopter after a rapid advance by terrorists.
President Joe Biden on Saturday authorized the deployment of 5,000 US troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an âorderly and safeâ withdrawal of military personnel.
State Department confirmed to The Epoch Times on Friday that he also ordered staff to destroy sensitive documents and other materials before the Taliban advanced.
Reuters contributed to this report.