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Secretary Antony J. Blinken NBC’s Meet the Press comments:
The State Department feel it especially powerfully because so many of those lost were Marines. And you know this, and I think a lot of Americans know this, too: If you go into any American embassy around the world, the first person you’re going to see is a Marine —
standing guard, standing sentry. We can’t do what we do, our diplomats can’t do what they do, without the Marines.
And that was true, of course, in Kabul in evacuating so far 110,000 people, and it’s true in every mission around the world. So we’re feeling this especially hard; it’s like a punch to the gut. And I just wanted to share that with people because it’s something that I’m feeling across this building and across my community here at the State Department.
QUESTION: And I want to get more into the retaliation that’s coming as well. Given what you just said, so can we have a diplomatic presence on September 1st, and can you have our diplomatic presence protected by Marines on September 1st in Kabul?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: First, in terms of having an on-the-ground diplomatic presence on September 1st, that’s not likely to happen. But what is going to happen is that our commitment to continue to help people leave Afghanistan who want to leave and who are not out by September 1st, that endures. There’s no deadline on that effort. And we have ways, we have mechanisms to help facilitate the ongoing departure of people from Afghanistan if they choose to leave.
I’m not going to get into the detail, but let me say this. First, you may have seen that just yesterday a very senior Taliban official went on television and radio across the country and repeatedly assured people in Afghanistan that they would have the freedom to travel after August 31st. He even specifically said those who worked for the Americans and those who want to leave for whatever reason will have that freedom. Now, of course, we don’t take the Taliban at their word. We take them by their deed, and that’s what we’re going to be looking to.
We have more than a hundred countries, 114 countries, who signed onto a statement we initiated making clear the international community expects the Taliban to make good on a commitment to let people continue to leave the country after August 31st. That freedom of travel is essential to the international community’s expectations of the Taliban going forward. And working with other countries very closely, we’re going to make sure that we put in place the means to do that – an airport that functions, other ways of leaving the country. All of that is what we’re working on in the days ahead.