The State Department said Friday that the US expects “follow through” on pledges by the Taliban for Washington to recognize the group diplomatically.
“We have heard a range of statements from the Taliban. Some of them have been positive, some of them have been constructive but ultimately what we will be looking for, what our international partners will be looking for are deeds, not words,” agency spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference where he provided the latest developments in Afghanistan and ongoing evacuations.
The Taliban previously made clear that “they would like to see an American diplomatic presence remain,” said Price. “The Taliban who, by the way, have been quite clear, and quite open in the fact that they would like other countries to retain their diplomatic missions. They said, a spokesperson said the other day: ‘we appreciate the that the embassies that remain open and didn’t close. We assure them of their safety and protection.'”
In response to a question on the US coordinating with Taliban security and the Haqqani network, Price said Washington is not coordinating with the Haqqani network and added that the “Taliban and Haqqani Network are separate entities.”
The Haqqani network, one of the key components of the Taliban, is headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani and is believed to be responsible for many high-profile bombings in Afghanistan.
It manages the economic and military assets of the Taliban along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Haqqani also served as one of the Taliban’s deputy leaders.
“What I can say is that the idea that we are providing names or personally identifiable information to the Taliban, in a way that exposes anyone to additional risk that is simply wrong, simply wrong,” he said.
Affirming that the US military is leaving by Aug. 31, Price said the US is “handing the (Hamid Karzai International) Airport back to the Afghan people. What we are doing is trying to lay the diplomatic groundwork and the technical groundwork.”
On a question regarding reports claiming that the Taliban is communicating with Turkey to potentially take charge of the airport, Price, without commenting on the reports, said: “Turks been playing a constructive role in the airport for some time now.”
“You know this was a topic of discussion between President (Joe) Biden and President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan when they met a couple of months ago. We appreciate the role that the Turks have played with Hamid Karzai International Airport. I know that President Erdogan addressed this in some public comments over the past day or so,” he said.
The Taliban takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15 set off a wave of evacuations via the Kabul airport, with an Aug. 31 deadline to finish evacuations is looming.
Turkey has been part of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan since 2002 and was also involved in evacuation efforts at the airport since the Taliban took control of the capital earlier this month.
US coordinating with Taliban on evacuations
Separately, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a news conference that “in order to get American citizens out, in order to get our Afghan partners out, in order to get green card holders out, we need to coordinate with the Taliban. We’ve been able to evacuate more than 105,000 people.”
“This is not a preferred relationship or a situation that we would have designed if we had started from scratch. I think that’s very clear, but right now we need to continue to coordinate, that’s our focus for the next couple of days,” she added.
Responding to a question about if the US would have a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan on Sept. 1, Psaki said: “We’re not predicting a diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan. What we’re talking about is coordinating with our international partners in order to determine what the path forward looks like so we can continue to evacuate.”
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