The State Department spox made the following points about the US Embassy in Kabul:
— Our embassy in Kabul has been on ordered departure since April 27th, and we’ve been evaluating the security situation every day to determine how best to keep those serving at our embassy safe. This is what we do for every diplomatic post in a challenging security environment.
— … we are further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation. We expect to draw down to a core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan in the coming weeks. In order to facilitate this reduction, the Department of Defense will temporarily deploy additional personnel to Hamid Karzai International Airport.
— The embassy remains open and we plan to continue our diplomatic work in Afghanistan. The United States will continue to support consular services, and that includes the processing and operations of the Special Immigrant Visa program, and will continue to engage in diplomacy with the Afghan Government and the Afghan people. Additionally, we will continue our focus on counterterrorism.
— To date, Operation Allies Refuge has brought more – has brought to the United States more than 1,200 Afghans who worked side by side with Americans in Afghanistan. That includes interpreters and translators, along with their families. Additional flights will begin landing daily, and you’re going to see the total number grow very quickly in the coming days and the coming weeks.
QUESTION: Can you move to the second part of the question? Will it remain open at its location or is it going to the airport?
MR PRICE: We are always evaluating the situation on the ground. We are planning for all contingencies. This was a contingency, in fact, that we had planned for. So I’m not going to entertain hypotheticals. I’m not going to go into what additional contingencies may arise, but it’s very important to say that our embassy remains open and our diplomatic mission will endure.
QUESTION: Ned, it’s not a hypothetical. Is the embassy staying at its current location or is it moving locations to the airport?
QUESTION: Or anywhere else.
MR PRICE: Christina – Christina.
QUESTION: Or anywhere else?
MR PRICE: The embassy remains open in its current location.
QUESTION: Ned, my last one and I’ll let everyone else go because I know – yeah. But my last one is: The people who are being drawn down, the staffers who are leaving, are they flying out commercially or is it that that’s what the military is going in to do?
MR PRICE: Well —
QUESTION: To take – to take them out.
MR PRICE: The military will be there to help effect an orderly and a safe reduction in our personnel. I do expect that the military will help with these relocation operations. But as we know, Hamid Karzai International Airport does remain open. Commercial flights continue to take off and land at the airport. So the military is not the only way in or out of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Can I – so you said that today is a continuation of what has been happening, but it appears very clearly to be a preparation for a full evacuation of all U.S. diplomats from Afghanistan. So what is your response to that?
MR PRICE: My response to that is that’s not true. This is not a full evacuation. This is not —
QUESTION: Ned, I’ll give you points for the old college – giving it the old college try on this. But when you talk about the message that this sends as enduring partnership, in what language does turning your tail and sending 3,000 troops in to – and you say it’s not an evacuation, but you lost that point when you said that the military, the 3,000 troops are going to be flying these drawn-down staffers out. It’s —
MR PRICE: I did not say that there would be 3,000 troops.
QUESTION: Okay. Sorry. You didn’t. Others have said that that’s the number that’s going in. But that the military, the U.S. military, is going to be – is going to be taking these people out, that is an evacuation. And I’m very cognizant of the difference between a drawdown where people leave commercially or if they drive out on their own. That’s not what this is. So I don’t understand the message of “enduring partnership” when you’re basically leaving.
Exclusive: American negotiators are trying to extract assurances from the Taliban that they will not attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to avoid evacuating as the extremist group advances toward the capital after seizing cities across Afghanistan. @nytimes https://t.co/0W5XSdgg1R
— Lara Jakes (@jakesNYT) August 12, 2021
BREAKING: The U.S. is sending troops into Afghanistan to help evacuate some personnel from the embassy in Kabul, an official says, as security rapidly deteriorates in the country. https://t.co/CS74DyxGbf
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2021
in all, the Pentagon will rely on about 9,000 troops, including many thousands in reserve, to support the emergency evacuation of personnel from the US embassy in Kabul. a remarkable turn
— Gordon Lubold (@glubold) August 12, 2021
The United States said it was significantly reducing staff at its embassy in Kabul as Taliban fighters continued their rapid advance across Afghanistan https://t.co/2Fy1gQHkHT pic.twitter.com/HnORSNrWes
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 13, 2021
The US is also expected to draw down some personnel from its diplomatic outpost in the Afghan capital, source said. https://t.co/XD368NayuH
— Jennifer Hansler (@jmhansler) August 12, 2021