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US foreign policy

White House praises Taliban as ‘professional’ as US citizens allowed to leave Kabul

Secretary of State Antony Blinken a day earlier revealed that the Taliban were holding up charter flights from leaving and called on the group to immediately allow them to depart.

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The White House praised the Taliban as being “cooperative” and “professional” after a flight with US citizens and lawful permanent residents was permitted to depart Kabul on Thursday.

“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA.

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They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step,” National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said.

A flight with close to 200 passengers, including US and British citizens and at-risk Afghans, landed in Doha late Thursday after being blocked from doing so by the Taliban.

There was sharp contrast between the language used in the NSC statement and comments made by the top US diplomat a day earlier.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that the Taliban were holding up charter flights from leaving and called on the group to immediately allow them to depart. “As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with his German counterpart.

But the White House said on Thursday that it would continue “these efforts to facilitate the safe and orderly travel of American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Afghans who worked for us and wish to leave Afghanistan.”

“Because there is an ongoing terrorist threat to operations of this nature, we will not be sharing details of these efforts before people are safely out of the country,” the NSC statement read.

The White House also thanked Qatar for helping facilitate the safety of the charter flights.

Later Thursday, Blinken also voiced a different take and thanked the Taliban. “Our team in Doha as well as Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad have been in regular contact with Taliban officials in recent days, and we have stressed that additional steps such as these will be similarly positively viewed by the international community,” he said in a statement.

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