As the arguably disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan enters its final days, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe that there were three hundred American citizens still to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
“There are a few hundred Americans left this weekend in Afghanistan that the State Department is aware of that want to get out of the country,” O’Keefe asked, apparently referencing the Biden administration rhetoric on those who need to be evacuated based on who “wants” to be evacuated. “Will they all get out by Tuesday?”
“What we are doing right now, Ed, is working one by one with those individuals and their families to direct them to a rally point near the airport to come into the airport and to get on the planes and go home,” Sullivan responded. “We have the capacity to have 300 Americans, which is roughly the number we think are remaining, come to the airport and get on planes in the time that is remaining.”
“We moved out more than that number just yesterday,” Sullivan continued. “So from our point of view, there is an opportunity right now for American citizens to come, to be admitted to the airport and to be evacuated safely and effectively.”
Sullivan then implied that some Americans would be left behind beyond President Biden’s deadline of August 31st because they do not wish to leave the country.
“There are those Americans, though, Ed, and this is important, who have chosen thus far not to leave Kabul. Maybe they’ve lived there for many years. Maybe they have extended family there. Our message to those Americans is that after August 31st, we will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident. And yes, we will ensure the safe passage of those Afghans who helped us to continue coming out after the 31st of August.”
However, when asked how this would be achieved, and whether this would require relying on the Taliban, Sullivan repeated the claim that the U.S. has “considerable” leverage over the Taliban.
“This isn’t about reliance,” he replied. “This is about ensuring that we use the leverage we have available to us, and it is considerable, to hold the Taliban to its commitments. The Taliban have both communicated privately and publicly that they will allow for safe passage.”
“We’re not just going to take their word for it,” Sullivan continued. “We’ve rallied dozens of countries from around the world to stand with us in saying to the Taliban that if they do not follow through on those commitments, there will be significant consequences. And the leverage we have, the economic leverage and the other forms of leverage we continue to possess, we believe will be effective in ensuring that we can get out other people who want to come out after the 31st of August.”
According to the New York Post, “US officials said there are about 280 Americans still in Afghanistan who have told the State Department they want to stay.”
“Since the Taliban took control of the country two weeks ago, about 114,000 people have been evacuated,” the Post added.