The US is still weighing its options on how to help stranded American citizens in Afghanistan as well as Afghans who helped US troops over the years, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said that the US was in touch with Americans in Afghanistan “in the last 24 hours, to tell them that we are looking at all possible options, air routes, land routes” to help them evacuate.
But the senior US diplomat told reporters that Washington was still working to determine “precisely” who wants to leave Afghanistan.
Despite appeals from Europe, the US withdrew at an expedited pace from the longest war it has ever taken part in, and Taliban militants quickly took over the country.
Meanwhile, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said 31,107 people were evacuated by the US from Afghanistan from Aug. 17. Of those evacuated, 4,446 were US citizens, 2,785 were lawful permanent residents, and 23,876 were at-risk Afghans.
Most, if not all, Afghans looking to flee were afraid of the Taliban, which has been executing and torturing those who worked with the US during the 20-year war.
Now, the US may be forced to deal with the Taliban. Military officials have admitted to coordinating with the group, which was toppled by the US decades ago, during the evacuation process in recent weeks.
Nuland said the US was planning on maintaining a line of communication with the militant group.
But she warned: “We’re not going to take them at their word, we’re going to take them at their deeds.”
“So, they’ve got a lot to prove based on their own track record,” Nuland said. “They also have a lot to gain, if they can run Afghanistan, far, far differently than they did the last time they were in power,” she added.
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