Blinken: US Embassy Is Closed

Office in Qatar will handle relations with Afghanistan as a 'new chapter' opens
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2021 8:15 PM CDT
US Diplomacy Moves On
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about Afghanistan, at the State Department in Washington, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.   (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – All American diplomats are out of Afghanistan, and the US Embassy is closed—signaling an abandonment not just of fighting but of long-held hopes for diplomacy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the embassy announcement Monday in an address to the nation after the Defense Department said that its personnel had left Afghanistan, the New York Times reports. The embassy will be vacant for the foreseeable future, per the AP. He said between 100 and 200 Americans remain in the country who want to get out. "We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans to leave Afghanistan," Blinken said, per the Washington Post.

Instead, the US has opened a diplomatic office for Afghanistan in Qatar, the secretary of state said. The US plan had been to stay in Afghanistan and help its government work for peace while sharing power with the Taliban. Just this month, Blinken said the US would stay "deeply engaged" there well after the military had left. But that was before the Taliban took Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani fled. A small group of US diplomats had been working until near the end to process visas for Afghans and get Americans safely out of the country.

Blinken said the Biden administration will still try to work with a Taliban government, but warily. "We will not do it on the basis of trust or faith," he said, "not on what the Taliban government says, but what it does." Saying a "new chapter" in the US involvement in Afghtanistan is beginning, Blinken said the Taliban will have to earn the international legitimacy it seeks. "The military mission is over, a new diplomatic mission has begun," he said. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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