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tv   Secretary of State Blinken on Afghanistan  CSPAN  August 31, 2021 2:35am-2:56am EDT

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surge got into that area and a very limited number of structures -- sec. blinken: good evening. 18 days ago, the united states and our allies began our evacuation and relocation operation in kabul. as you just heard from the pentagon a few hours ago, that operation was completed. more than 123,000 people have been safely flown out of afghanistan. that includes about 6000 american citizens. this has been a massive military, diplomatic and humanitarian undertaking, one of the most difficult in our nations history. an extraordinary feat of logistics and coordination under some of the most challenging
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circumstances imaginable. many people made this possible. i want to commend our outstanding diplomats who worked around-the-clock and around the world to coordinate the operations. they volunteered for duty at the kabul airport, flew they deployed two ports of and to an american military bases to welcome afghans to their new homes. they stopped a 24/7 task force in washington. they built a list of americans possibly seeking to leave afghanistan, then worked to contact every one of them repeatedly, sending 33,000 emails and 55,000 emails -- 55,000 phone calls since august 14. they did this because for the
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thousands who have served in afghanistan the past 20 years, this evacuation operation was very personal. many worked hand-in-hand for years with afghan partners, many of whom became trusted friends. we lost cherished members of our community in afghanistan and we will never forget them. helping americans, the foreign partners by our side, and afghans at risk at this moment was more than just a high-stakes risk, it was a sacred duty. the world saw how our diplomats rose to the challenge with determination and tart. -- and part. -- heart. tens of thousands of afghans were airlifted out. allies are providing vital
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support, caring for afghans in europe, the middle east, and the united states. we have seen pictures of service members at the kabul airport cradling babies and comforting families. that is the kind of courage and compassion are men in human -- men and women in uniform exemplify. four days ago, 11 marines, one navy medic, and one soldier were killed at the gate, as well as scores of afghans. nearly all of them were in their early 20's, just babies and toddlers on september 11, 2001. we feel this loss deeply. we have a special bond with the marines. the first person you see when you visit an american embassy is a marine. they guard our diplomatic
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missions and keep us safe around the world. we could not our jobs without them and we will never forget their sacrifice, nor will we forget what they have achieved. the most exceptional among us perform a lifetime's work and service in a short time on were -- on earth. so it was for our exceptional brothers and sisters who died last week. finally, i want to thank our allies and partners. this operation was a global endeavor in every way. many countries stepped up with contributions for airlift, including working biocide at the airport. some are now serving in transit countries, allowing evacuees to be processed on the way to their final destination. others have agreed to resettle refugees permanently and we hope more will do so in the weeks ahead. we are truly grateful for their
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support. now u.s. military flights had ended and our troops have departed afghanistan and a new chapter has begun. it is one in which we will lead with diplomacy. the military mission is over. a new diplomatic mission has begun. here is the plan for the weeks ahead. first, we build a new team to help lead this mission. as of today, we have suspended our diplomatic presence in couple and transferred our operations to qatar. given the uncertain environment in afghanistan, it was the prudent step to take. let me take this opportunity to thank the ambassador in couple who came out of retirement to lead the embassy and has done
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exceptional, courageous work during a highly challenging time. we will use this post to manage diplomacy with afghanistan, including administering humanitarian assistance and working with allies and partners to coordinate messaging to the taliban. our team will be led by en -- ian [indiscernible] we will continue our relentless efforts to help people leave afghanistan if they choose. let me talk about the americans who remain. we have given americans every opportunity to depart. in some cases, walking them into the airport. those who are considering
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leaving, we have received confirmation 6000 have been evacuated or otherwise departed. the number will likely grow as outreach continues. we believe there are still a small number of americans under 200, likely closer to 100, who remain in afghanistan on what to leave. we are trying to determine how many. we are calling and texting through our lists and will have more details as soon as possible. part of the challenge with fixing a precise number is they are longtime residents of afghanistan who have american passports were trying to determine if they want to leave. many are american citizens but have family and deep roots in afghanistan. for many it is a painful choice. our commitment to them and all
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americans in afghanistan continues. the protection and welfare of americans abroad remains vital. if americans in afghanistan tell us they want to stay now and later change their mind, we will help them leave. we have worked intensely to relocate afghans who worked alongside us among risk of reprisal. we have got many output many are still there. we will keep working to help them. our commitment to them has no deadline. we will hold the taliban to their pledge to let people freely depart afghanistan. the taliban is committed to let anyone with proper documents leave the country in a safe and orderly manner. they have said this many times.
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friday, a senior taliban official said it again on television and radio, that any afghans may leave the country, for whatever reason there may be, if they want. most half the -- almost half the world's countries has joined -- as of today, more than 100 countries have said they expect the taliban to honor travel or authorizations. a few hours ago, united nations security council passed a resolution that enshrined that responsibility, laying the groundwork to hold the taliban accountable as they renege. the international force will stay strong. we will hold the taliban to their commitment. we will work to secure safe passage.
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this morning i met with the foreign ministers of all of the g-7 countries and others. we discussed how we will work together to facilitate safe travel out of afghanistan. we appreciate the efforts of qatar and turkey. this would enable daily charter flights. we are also working to identify ways to support americans and afghans who have worked with us if they choose to depart. we know this will not be easy or rapid. this is a different phase from the evacuation. it will take time to work through a new set of challenges
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but we will stay on it. the former ambassador of afghanistan he returned to kabul to help lead evacuation efforts at the airport will spearhead the work to help americans, citizens of other nations, and afghans of high risk if any of them want to depart afghanistan. we are grateful for his commitment to this mission as well as the extraordinary officers serving by his side. we will stay focused on counterterrorism. taliban has committed to preventing terrorist groups to using afghanistan as a base for external operations, including al qaeda and isis-k. we will hold them accountable to that commitment.
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while we have expectations of the taliban, it does not mean we will rely on them, we will remain vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves and maintain counterterrorism in the region to neutralize threats as necessary, as we demonstrated in the past few days, and as we do around the world. let me speak to the engagement with the taliban. we engaged with the taliban to facilitate evacuations. going forward, any communication with them will be driven by vital national interest. if we can work with them in a way that helps secure interests, including the return of a u.s. citizen who has had been held hostage in the region since last
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year, we will do it, but we will not do it on the basis of trust or faith. every step we take will be based on what the taliban does, not says. the taliban seeks international legitimacy and support. our message is that will have to be earned. the taliban can do that by meeting the commitments and obligations on freedom of travel, respecting the rights of afghan people including women and minorities, not carrying out reprisal violence on those who choose to stay, and forming an inclusive government that can meet the needs of the afghan people. we will continue humanitarian assistant to the people of afghanistan -- humanitarian
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assistance to the people of afghanistan. the taliban has taken a terrible toll. billions are displaced, facing hunger and starvation. covid-19 has also hit afghanistan hard. the u.s. will continue supporting aid to the afghans consistent with sanctions on taliban. that aid will flow through independent agencies, not the afghan government. we expect those efforts not to be impeded by anyone. we will continue the broad international diplomacy across all issues. we think we can accomplish far more and have more leverage when we coordinate with allies and partners. in the last two weeks we have had a series of intense diplomatic engagements to forge
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a way ahead in afghanistan. i met with foreign minister's and have spoken with counterparts. last week president biden met with the leaders of the g-7. going forward we will coordinate with countries around the world and with leading organizations and the private sector. allies and partners share our objectives and are committed to working with us. i will have more to say in the coming days. the main point is our work in afghanistan continues. we have a plan for what is next and we are putting it into action. the war in afghanistan was a 20 year endeavor. we must allow those lessons to
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shape our questions about what we think about national security and foreign policy. we owe it to leaders, servicemembers, and the american people. as we do, we will remain focused on today and the future and make sure we find every opportunity to make good on our promise to the afghan people. we will honor the brave men and women who have risked and sacrificed their lives as part of this long mission right up until today. thank you for listening.
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>> "washington journal" continues. host: our next guest is dr. lee sabio president of american academy of pediatrics. welcome to "washington journal." guest: thank you for having us here. host: how many pediatricians to you represent, your organization, and what is its mission? guest: the american academy of pediatrics represents over 67,000 pediatricians and our mission is to support the health and well being of all children. host: you're joining us this morning after news yesterday some positive news on the vaccine front for kids at

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