Channel 1 Los Angeles
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Kabul
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon. Good to see everyone. I’ve come to Afghanistan today because it was important to me and important to President Biden to convey in person America’s commitment to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and the Afghan people.
As President Biden announced yesterday, we’re withdrawing our troops by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We’ve achieved the objective we set out nearly 20 years ago. We never intended to have a permanent military presence here. The threat from al-Qaida in Afghanistan is significantly degraded. Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. After years of saying that we would leave militarily at some point, that time has come.
But even when our troops come home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue. Our security partnership will endure. There’s strong bipartisan support for that commitment to the Afghan Security Forces. We’ll intensify our diplomacy with the Government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, countries in the region and around the world that have a stake in Afghanistan’s future. We’ll stand with the Afghan people, including through economic investment and development assistance, as they work toward a more prosperous future. We’ll continue to support civil society and to advocate for equal rights for women, including their meaningful participation in the ongoing negotiations and their equal representation throughout society. We’ll maintain the American tradition of providing humanitarian assistance for those most in need, including women, girls, and refugees.
I shared that message in all my meetings today – with President Ghani, with Chairman Abdullah, with representatives from civil society who are working for change every single day in their communities throughout the country. The United States will remain Afghanistan’s steadfast partner. We want the Afghan people, countries in the region, and the international community to know that fact.
It’s also a very important message for the Taliban to hear. As I think you know, I just came from Brussels. We consulted there with all of our NATO Allies, and the message that I heard from them was strong and clear. They’re proud of what we’ve done together over the past 20 years and they’re equally committed to continuing the partnership with Afghanistan.
For all of us, it’s been a long journey to this moment. There is a great deal of work and planning to do in the months ahead to ensure that the withdrawal is responsible, deliberate, and safe. But that work is going to be matched by our enduring support for Afghanistan economically, diplomatically, politically.
I do want to say that as we proceed, we will remember the extraordinary courage, strength, and sacrifice of our troops who have served in Afghanistan for the past two decades. At its height, the International Security Assistance Force had troops from 50 NATO countries and partner nations. Today, Resolute Support has troops from about 35 allies and partners. These service members risked their lives; thousands gave their lives. And we have succeeded in achieving the objective we set out to achieve because of their service, because of their sacrifice, and now we are embarking on a new chapter in our work here and in our partnership with the Afghan people.