No US official plans travel to Afghanistan, spokesman confirms

The US Department of State has stated that no official from their office has any plans to travel to Afghanistan, indirectly responding to a letter from US congressman Michael McCaul, who expressed strong opposition to any attempt by United States officials to travel to the South Asian country now under Taliban control.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “There are no department officials who have any plans to travel to Afghanistan.” He further mentioned that Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently spoke with his counterpart in Pakistan to reaffirm a productive US-Pakistan partnership.

In his statement on Monday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul emphasized the need to avoid US government officials meeting with the Taliban and legitimizing their de-facto governance of Afghanistan, which remains a contested situation.

McCaul highlighted the deteriorating behavior of the Taliban despite previous US engagement. He pointed out their actions, such as taking Americans hostage, disrupting humanitarian assistance efforts, appointing al-Qaeda officials to government positions, and imposing draconian rules on women and girls, including restricting education beyond the sixth grade.

Instead of normalizing the Taliban’s regime, McCaul urged the US to lead the international community in demanding reforms.

“I am writing to express my strong opposition to US government officials traveling to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan,” McCaul stated.

Following the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, no US government official has traveled to the country. The US officials, instead, have been engaging in weekly meetings with Taliban representatives in Qatar to facilitate the ongoing evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies, according to McCaul’s statement.

Meanwhile, Patel addressed the issue of US-Taliban relations, reiterating the US’s stance towards the Taliban’s actions in Afghanistan.

“As it relates to the United States and the Taliban, we have been incredibly clear, quite regularly condemning the clear backsliding that we’re seeing in Afghanistan, the egregious human rights abuses, the marginalization of women and girls, and it continues to be our viewpoint – two things: one, if the Taliban intends to seek international recognition, they need to start directly with the actions and the policies they choose to undertake in Afghanistan, and number two, the US is going to be watching very closely and will continue to take appropriate action as needed,” Patel said.

The Taliban’s recent imposition of restrictions on women led to thousands of beauty salons being closed after the completion of a one-month deadline set by the group.