Biden aide guarantees safe passage for Americans from Afghanistan

© Reuters. Evacuees from Afghanistan board a Boeing 777 bound for the United States from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy August 28, 2021. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration expects the Taliban to continue allowing safe passage for Americans and others to leave Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal is completed next week, according to a top official.

“The Taliban have both communicated privately and publicly that they will allow for safe passage,” said Jake Sullivan, U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, in a CBS TV interview set to be broadcast Sunday.

U.S. forces are set to wind up their evacuation mission in Kabul before a Tuesday deadline set by Biden after the Taliban took control of much of the country. That effort has been complicated by the threat of more attacks like Thursday’s blast that killed scores of Afghans and 13 American troops.

“After August 31st, we will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident,” Sullivan said, according to a transcript of CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“And yes, we will ensure the safe passage of those Afghans who helped us to continue coming out after the 31st of August.”

Such safe passage would suggest some form of ongoing cooperation between Washington and the Taliban, which now controls a country it ran from 1996 to 2001, before being toppled by the United States in retaliation for providing safe haven to the al Qaeda militants who planned the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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“Our current plan is not to have an ongoing embassy presence in Afghanistan as of September 1st,” said Sullivan.

He said more strikes and “other operations” are under consideration to retaliate for Thursday’s attack, which was claimed by ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State and was the most lethal incident for U.S. service members in Afghanistan in a decade.

Sullivan also said U.S. officials do not believe that “the relevant terrorist groups in Afghanistan” have an advanced ability to plot attacks abroad.

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