Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the Taliban is preventing chartered flights from leaving Afghanistan because some onboard do not have the required documentation.
“As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart,” Blinken said at a news conference at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. “They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation.”
“While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place, we are working to do everything within our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground,” he added. “That’s what we’ve done and that’s what we will continue to do.”
Blinken, 59, said that the U.S. is working with nongovernmental organizations, advocates and lawmakers to “help coordinate their efforts and offer guidance where we can.”
“We have made clear to all parties, we have made clear to the Taliban that these charters need to be able to depart,” he said. “We continue every day, virtually every hour to work on that.”
Hundreds of Americans, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and green card holders are still in Afghanistan after the pullout of U.S. troops last month. There was pressure on the Biden administration to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan until Americans who wanted to leave had been evacuated. But after the military pullout, the administration assured that there would be a diplomatic mission to ensure that additional U.S. citizens and eligible Afghans could depart from the country.
John Bass, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, was tasked with spearheading the State Department’s effort to help American citizens, citizens of allied nations, special immigrant visa applicants and Afghans at high risk leave the country.
In an earlier press conference, Blinken shared assurance he received for a senior Taliban official who vowed that “any Afghans may leave the country, including those who worked for Americans, if they want and for whatever reason there may be.”