Blinken says US continues to hold Taliban accountable for its commitments

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a session at the US Institute of Peace.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized his country’s ongoing support for the people of Afghanistan during a press briefing on Tuesday. He indicated that the United States will persist in holding the Taliban accountable for its commitments, particularly concerning the rights of women and girls.

Blinken’s comments were made on August 15, marking the second anniversary of Kabul’s fall and the republic government’s fall to the Taliban. Over the past two years, the Taliban has imposed extensive restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, depriving over one million young women of education during this time.

“We remain the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, some $1.9 billion since August of 2021,” Blinken stated. “And we continue to work to hold the Taliban accountable for the many commitments that it’s made and not fulfilled, particularly when it comes to the rights of women and girls.”

Blinken also addressed global relations with the Taliban, asserting that the treatment of women’s and girls’ rights will influence those relations.

“We’ve been very clear with the Taliban, and dozens of countries around the world have been very clear, that the path to any more normal relationship between the Taliban and other countries will be blocked unless and until the rights of women and girls, among other things, are actually supported,” the US secretary of state affirmed. “So this is an area of ongoing focus, of ongoing commitment. And that won’t cease.”

Blinken added that the United States continues to make steady progress in fulfilling its responsibilities and commitments to partners in Afghanistan.

“Through August 1, 2023 – between that period and when we left, so August 31st to August 1st of this year – nearly 34,000 Special Immigrant Visas to principal applicants and their family members have been issued and have been – and these people have been able to leave Afghanistan and come to the United States,” he reported.

Blinken asserted that the US’s “enduring commitments” to Afghanistan “haven’t changed.”

“We want to make sure that we continue to make good on any American citizens who happen to be in Afghanistan and who wish to depart. And as you know, we brought back virtually all of the American citizens who said they wanted to depart in the course of the withdrawal, and that effort continued well after and continues to this day, and I believe some 900 or so additional American citizens who’ve told us at one point or another that they wanted to leave we’ve made sure could get home,” he explained.

Blinken also defended the US’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in August 2021.

“The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was an incredibly difficult one, but also the right one. We ended America’s longest war. For the first time in 20 years, we don’t have another generation of young Americans going to fight and die in Afghanistan,” he concluded.