Blinken says US talking to Taliban about more flights out of Kabul

Blinken says US talking to Taliban about more flights out of Kabul
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Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Syria's challenge to Tony Blinken's conscience MORE on Tuesday said Biden administration officials have been communicating with the Taliban about additional charter flights leaving Kabul after the U.S. military was withdrawn from the country.

Blinken, during a joint news conference with Qatar’s top diplomats and defense officials, said the U.S. has been in contact with the Taliban “in recent hours” to discuss the evacuation of additional personnel on charter flights, according to The Associated Press.

He said the Taliban has assured officials that individuals who wish to leave Afghanistan and have eligible travel documents will be given safe passage, the AP noted, adding that the U.S. will hold the insurgent group to that vow.

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The U.S. believes there are “somewhere around 100” American citizens who remain in Afghanistan and want to leave, according to Blinken. Last week, he said that “under 200 and likely closer to 100” U.S. citizens were still in the country.

Blinken on Sunday left the U.S. for a trip to the Persian Gulf following the completion of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. He is scheduled to travel to Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Wednesday.

The last U.S. troops departed Afghanistan last week, bringing an end to America’s longest war after 20 years of military involvement.

The U.S., however, is now looking for ways to evacuate the remaining American citizens from the country.

Blinken is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later this month to testify about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, marking the first scheduled public hearing with administration officials since late August.

The administration has been criticized for its withdrawal effort, which saw the deaths of 13 U.S. service members in a suicide bombing during the final days of the mission.