White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday US policy still “isn’t natural” to negotiate with terrorists as officials in the Biden administration say they rely on the Taliban to provide safe passage for Americans. and US allies to allow the Kabul airport.
“Why didn’t we hear the president say, ‘The United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists?’ Is that still American policy?’ Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked the press secretary during a daily briefing.
“Well, of course it is, Peter,” Psaki replied. “But I would also like to say that the fact is that the Taliban currently control large parts of Afghanistan. That is the reality on the ground, and right now our focus and priority is on evacuating American citizens and evacuating our Afghan partners.”
“And I’d say, given the numbers we’ve outlined and briefed for you, we’ve made a lot of progress in doing just that,” she added.
The press secretary later noted in the briefing that there was no quid pro quo for the Taliban allowing Americans to go to the airport — they had received no money or aid in return.
“No, this isn’t consideration,” Psaki said. “We’ve clearly set out our expectations about expelling American citizens and our Afghan partners, allies, out of the country and that’s what we’re working on to make that happen.”
Taliban fighters stand guard outside Hamid Karzai International Airport during an evacuation at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday August. 24
The US tradition against negotiating with terrorists, or more specifically providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, is illegal under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
But negotiations with the Taliban were formalized under President Trump when he signed a deal with the group that promised a US exit from Afghanistan and the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the group that the US or its allies would not. would attack and no other terrorist groups that want to do so.
This week, President Biden sent CIA director William Burns to Kabul to meet with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, where the pair are said to have discussed rumors of extending the deadline for a U.S. exit beyond Aug. 31, to give more time to Americans. to evacuate civilians. and allies.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid scoffed at the idea and promised “consequences” if the US was not gone by then.
Biden said he would stick to that date despite pressure at home and abroad.
“Each day of operations poses additional risks to our troops, but completion by the 31st will depend on continued Taliban cooperation, allowing access to the airport for those departing and no disruptions.” of our operations,” Biden said.
But the Taliban told Afghans who wanted to leave the country to go home on Tuesday that they would be blocked from leaving to tame the crowds around the airport.
Biden has been repeatedly pressured to trust the Taliban at their word.
‘I don’t trust anyone, not even you. I love you, but you know, there aren’t many people I trust,” Biden told a reporter.
“The Taliban have said – we’ll see if they mean it or not – they’re looking for legitimacy. They seek legitimacy to determine whether or not they are recognized by other countries,” the president continued.
So far, the Taliban have taken no action against US forces. So far they have broadly followed what they said, in terms of allowing Americans to continue, and the like.”
He seemed to be dangling future help on how the Taliban runs the country.
“The Taliban must make a fundamental decision: are the Taliban going to try to unite and ensure the well-being of the Afghan people, which no group has ever done before they did – for hundreds of years.
And if it does, it will need everything from extra aid, in terms of economic aid, trade and a whole host of things.”
Meanwhile, the US has stepped up its airlifts and evacuated 19,000 people in the past 24 hours and has already started withdrawing forces with just six days to the deadline. During an overnight operation, the US said it flew “less than 20” to the airport between Wednesday and Thursday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the State Department had evacuated 4,500 Americans since the fall of Kabul, was in the process of evacuating another 500 and was still trying to contact another 1,000 many who may have responded to the agency’s calls. don’t answer because they do. don’t want to leave.
Desperate Afghan men, women and children are still swarming from the airport in an attempt to escape fearing an attack by the IS branch of Islamic State, and 10,000 evacuees wait inside the gates to get out.