Up to 1,500 Americans May Still Need Evacuating, Says Blinken as US Advises Citizens to Stay Away from Airport

“They have a responsibility to hold to that commitment and provide safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave the country, not just for the duration of our evacuation relocation mission but for every day thereafter.”

Asked what is being done to keep Kabul airport functioning after US troops leave, Blinken said that regional countries were looking into “whether they can play a role in keeping the airport open.” “The Taliban have made clear that they have a strong interest in having a functioning airport,” he said.

Asked about future relations with the Taliban, Blinken said the United States “will judge our engagement with any Taliban-led government in Afghanistan based on one simple proposition — our interests.”

“The nature of any relationship depends on the actions and conduct of the Taliban,” he said, citing a need for the fundamentalist Islamic group to “uphold the basic rights of the Afghan people” and not allow the country to be used “as a launching pad for terrorist attacks.”

“If it makes good on its commitments to allow people who want to leave Afghanistan to leave, that’s a government we can work with,” he said. “If it doesn’t, we will make sure that we use every appropriate tool at our disposal to isolate that government and, as I said before, Afghanistan will be a pariah.”

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Kabul advised U.S. citizens not to travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport at this time, according to an embassy security alert issued on Wednesday. Citizens already at the airport’s Abbey Gate, East Gate, and North Gate were advised to leave immediately, said the security alert. The alert, posted on the embassy website, gave no reason for why it was issued.

It followed warnings by U.S. President Joe Biden and other administration officials of a threat by Islamic State to evacuation operations as crowds thronged airport gates, desperate to leave following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

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