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tv   Deputy Secretary of State Holds Briefing  CSPAN  August 19, 2021 3:19am-4:25am EDT

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>> deputy secretary of state wendy sherman briefed reporters
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earlier today about developments in afghanistan. she said in the last 24 hours, the u.s. military has evacuated about 2000 people with 5000 more processed. >> good afternoon. we have a special guest with us today. deputy secretary wendy sherman
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to speak about afghanistan. she will offer some words at the top and take a few questions then we will resume with our regularly scheduled programming. >> thank you very much. that afternoon. i want to update you all on the situation on the ground in afghanistan. the state department i can tell you from personal experience has been working around the clock to respond to an enormously challenging and fluid situation. this is absolutely an all hands on deck effort to ensure the safety of our citizens.
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>> we'll invite more than 800 afghan special visa holders to aboard flights to the united states. we are going to expand our notification and expanding them to transmit information about evacuation options to each group. we'll continue to accelerate our effort including by working with our allies and partners mto's to identify and assist afghans eligible for p1 or p2 refugee status and over afghans at risk. we are continuing to have resources here in washington and missions around the world including in kabul where our outstanding charged affair and other staff remain on the ground working tirelessly and with very little sleep if any, to help
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american citizens third country nationals and afghans who fear for their lives and wish to leave the country. our former ambassador to afghanistan, john bass, will be on the ground in kabul very shortly to support these efforts. he's already in the region. major general chris donohue, the commander of the 82nd airborne division is already in kabul to help facilitate the evacuation. additional counselor officers arrived in kabul today. we'll double the number of counselor officers on the ground by friday. our diplomatic and military personnel are working in lock step toward the same goal to get as many people who want to leave afghanistan and who are vulnerable to taliban reprisals because they helped the united states and otherwise at risk because of who they are, or what they do or what they believe out
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of the country as quickly and as safely as possible. the events and images of the last week have been wrenching. for all of us. i'm sure for you as well. thousands of state department personnel have served in afghanistan over the last two decades. many more than once. an entire generation of diplomats were called to join the armed services after the september 11th attacks. even those of us who haven't served in afghanistan know many who have. the men and women of the state department have built deep enduring relationships with afghan citizens who want the same thing that people everywhere want. education and economic opportunity for themselves and for their children. a free press that can speak truth to power, freedom to live
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without fear, violence or oppression, equality for women and girls. we will stand with those who have stood with us from the state department and across the federal government, we are simultaneously pursuing multiple ands of efforts to respond to the situation on the ground in situation. we are -- we are offering the opportunity to evacuate that with their family. we are continuing to process visas for afghans eligible for the status and family. for those who are early in the process, we are working with our allies and partners to move them to third countries while their paperwork is completed. we are also urgently accelerating our efforts to assist eligible afghans under priority 1 or 2 referrals to refugee admissions program and humanitarian parole.
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we are working on our own with our allies and partners and with ngo's to identify and assist other afghans at risk including women and girls, human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society actor. we have seen reports that the taliban contrary to their public comments are blocking afghans who wish to leave the country from reaching the airport. our team in doha and military partners on the ground in kabul are engaging directly with the taliban that make sure we expect them to allow all american citizens, all third country nationals and all afghans who wish to leave to do so safely and without harassment. a majority of the world nation this morning as of this morning 109 governments and counting have come together to underscore the same message. the state department is
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tirelessly pursuing diplomatic efforts with our allies and partners in every region of the world. to mobilize resources to save afghan lives. secretary blinken have spoken to dozen counterparts. this morning under secretary of state and i convened political directors from more than a dozen allies. i think we have 20 on the phone. partner to encourage everyone to take additional steps to help the afghan people. our ambassadors are working day and night in capitals around the world. as i said, this is an all hands on deck effort. we aren't going to let up. on the political front, we saw very strong statement on monday from u.n. security counsel including china and russia.
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they reiterated the need for an inclusive just, durable and political assessment that protects human rights including, women, children and minority. president biden and prime minster boris johnson agreed yesterday to hold a virtual g-7 leaders meeting on afghanistan next week. earlier told, nato secretary general, announced he is convening a virtual meeting of nato foreign minister on friday to discuss our common approach. the united states and international community has been clear, we remain committed to combating terrorism in afghanistan and will not tolerate a government that allows afghanistan to once again become a safe haven for terrorists. as president biden said, the united states will maintain a laser focus on our counterterrorism mission in afghanistan and in other parts of the world. we will hold the taliban
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accountable to the commitments they made in the 2020 agreement and those they have made since that they will not allow terrorist groups that threaten the united states or its allies to operate on afghan soil. before i take your questions, i want to speak to a situation that's very personal to me. facing afghan women and children. yesterday the taliban held a press conference where they claim they intend to allow women to work and study. but only within what they call their "frameworks." the united states and the international community will be vigilant in monitoring how any future government in afghanistan ensures the rights and freedoms that women and girls in that country have come to expect. the united states joined 20 other nations this morning and jointly affirming that
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commitment. this is personal for me. as it is for many people here at the state department and across the federal government. in 1997, i joined then secretary of state albright when she visited afghan women and girls in refugee camp. secretary albright told them, it is impossible to modernize a nation that half or more the population is left behind. that was one of the most meetings i had as a diplomat. i had a teenage daughter at the time. a young teenager told me about watching her sister being raped and thrown out a window. women who were doctors and teachers and homemakers, talked about how they couldn't do and have their lives anymore.
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that memory will never be wiped from my mind. society could not flourish and prosper without the full participation of women and girls back then and they cannot flourish and prosper without women and girls now. in the last 20 years, afghan women and girls have embraced their freedom. millions have gone to school. they have become doctors, lawyers, journalist, parliamentarians and entrepreneurs. they have built the lives that secretary albright encouraged them to imagine, all those years ago. so much more. when i was undersecretary during the obama administration, i traveled to kabul and i met with women and girls and say the amazing things they accomplished. their talent and drive. the society they were working so hard to build.
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i have met with afghan women leaders as deputy secretary of state as well. to hear from them about their tireless efforts to educate women and girls. these ambitions and dreams and the concrete progress they have made for themselves, their families and neighbors and country, are all things i carry with me every single day. the united states our air allies and partner will continue to fight for afghan women and girl and secretary blinken and president of the united states join me in that drive. we are working the international community to help those who are vulnerable who are facing taliban reprisals to get to safety. we'll use every economic, diplomatic and political tool we have to hold the taliban accountable to their word and more. with that, i'll take your questions.
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>> thank you very much. [indiscernible] i'm one of the afghan women. i was journalist escaped from the taliban. thank you so much. thank you for the united states. thank you for you. i'm not any journalist. thank you so much for the opportunity.
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thank you so much. >> it has been so long. i can't call you wendy anymore. i have to call you madam deputy secretary. >> that sounds good. >> on the immediate question, you said your surging officers at the the airport. all of that, great. if people can't get to the airport, i realized you mentioned this issue. if people can't get to the airport, it doesn't really matter how many people you have there. my question is, what exactly are you telling the taliban? that is going to happen to them if they don't start letting in, not just americans, opr's but afghans who are at risk and potentially even afghans who are at risk who don't have all of
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the necessary paperwork that they might need to get out? >> thank you, matt. we know each other well enough for you to know that i'm not going to tell you the diplomacy that's going on. i will say that we are in discussion, trying to ensure that there's not only safe passage for american citizens, for diplomats of third country nationals, but for everybody who is trying to get to the airport. that work is ongoing. the taliban has said it will not have reprisal. it established an amnesty that the roads are open. people can move. we've heard all of the stories that have many journalists in afghanistan reporting about check points, about harass amounts -- harassments and about jammed traffic. we are trying to work through those issues as best we can. i will tell you this in spite of the obstacles, many afghans in
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all of the categories you cited are finding their way to the airport. we will continue to do what we can through the diplomacy. it's not just us. it's the international community as i said over 109 countries who called on the taliban to do this. the taliban are hoping to create a government in afghanistan. they seek legitimacy. we are all watching their actions. their actions will speak to whether they are going to protect the basic human rights and the basic rights of the afghan people and their actions in these days will tell us whether there's reality to what their words say or whether there's not. >> you spent lot of time with the chinese in the past few months. can i ask you whether you think the united states and china along with other pours reason
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out same page in afghanistan? what are the messages you receiving from beijing and from islamabad. is there some push you can have for not recognize? >> each country makes its own decisions about its national security and its foreign policy. that said, i think that the u.n. security council resolution that was passed by consensus. we are all in the same place. which is calling on the taliban to ensure justice and equal rights and inclusion for their there to be no violence for people to be able to leave when they can. i think right now, there's very strong unanimity. secretary blinken has spoken to many ministers, president and prime minsters. this week, he has spoken to both foreign minister lavrov and juan
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li to continue conversations to try to all head in the same direction. >> what the fate of the u.s. embassy post-august 31st. i'm sure you seen ashraf ghani is in the uea. did the united states know this ahead of this? what is the united states message ahead of him today. >> i'm having a hard time getting past your mask. on the last part of your question, we saw the announcement this morning that ghani had been welcomed by the government. that is that. >> there's no reaction? does the united states -- >> he is no longer a figure in afghanistan. >> how does this play into your
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relationship with the uae? >> we have a fine relationship with the uae. >> the does the state have an embassy. >> we have a functioning embassy out of the airport. it will continue to function as long as it can providing services to not only american citizens but our international partners to afghans at risk. that is our mission now. that is what we are focused on. >> you talked about the images that we've seen coming out of kabul and the impact that has on diplomats. i'm wondering, this relates to your role with china, the impact this is having on u.s. credibility around the world, you seeing chinese outlets having a play on this, talking about abandonment for taiwan. from the u.k. lawmakers saying
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this a failure of -- [indiscernible] similar criticism what we saw in the previous administration regarding syrian curds. repeating pattern of abandonment by the u.s., leaving allies vulnerable, people and women at the mercy of the human rights abusers. what can you say to your allies, potential future allies and existing allies about whether the u.s. is a reliable partner in the world what we're seeing in afghanistan? >> we have said to each other as we did on the conference call this morning that i hosted. i think we have said it to each other at the nac meeting held in brussels yesterday. it will be said again on friday. i think it is what we have said to each other in the over 109 countries signed on to the statement we put out earlier
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this week. i can't remember the days anymore. we all share a focus right now on making sure that our country men and women that afghans at risk in all categories are able to leave the country, should they so choose. that is our mission. we are not focused on the after action report which we will all be doing. we will do here at the state department, our government will do one. we will assess what happened, what didn't happened. as admiral kirby said the other day, as every good general knows you put a plan together and after the first step, you have to create a new plan because there's events you didn't expect. when we put many sid's through our system and our embassy was hit with covid and we had to
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lock down, that couldn't have been planned for. that covid would hit our embassy as hard it did in kabul. you have to figure out a new plan what you can do online, or what you can do without face-to-face interviews, how fast you can get back up and running. we have done all of that. we have through the existing program put through 76,000sbi's since we started this next round. i have to check my notes. i think we have done more than 2000. the sib legislation gave these folks visas. what this administration has done is to provide the airlift out of afghanistan to come to the united states. i think we have picked up the ball and kept running because our focus is on getting the people who want out of afghanistan out to safety.
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it is also holding the taliban accountable as it tries to stand off a transitional government for what is expected of them to ensure that it's a just inclusive society. >> final question. >> i'm wonder being the security alert that went out to americans just recently. it said that the u.s. cannot ensure safe passage to the airport for those americans. i'm wondering what this says about the competency of this mission and also the u.s. confidence in the taliban's commitment to provide a safe passage to the airport that you're telling these americans you can go to the airport if you want, you will not get there safely. >> first of all, we had many americans show up when the notice went out. all americans have been notified to the extent we have them on our e-mail system.
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americans are not required to register with the state department. the only e-mail we have are those americans who signed up with our system. we've also put it on our website. we also made public announcement to make sure citizens know they have this. option. the taliban made a commitment to safe passage for american citizens. i don't know of an incident where an american got harassed or hustled or wasn't able to get to the airport. i have not heard that yet. that's not to say there aren't any stories out there. there probably may be some. so far, it appears americans have been able to get to the airport. kabul, is an enormous city. enormous. it has in fact, had more and more people come to kabul because they thought it was the safest place to be in afghanistan. it is difficult under any
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circumstances and i don't know of any government that would be capable of reaching out to where everybody might be, particularly those who have not signed up to us to help them. so far, the track record is quite good for americans. it appears the taliban mission more passage to american citizens has to be solid. i'm not making a bottom line assessment here. so far, the experience seem to be one that worked. [indiscernible] >> to your point that other administrations did this before. the operation that you begun didn't begin until late july. so far is only brought 2000
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afghans to fort meade in virginia. was this a failure of the administration to prioritize this issue and to bring afghans to security while you still the chance before kabul >> i think you heard it said from several podiums already including by high officials in our government. there was a concern that if we moved too quickly it would undermine the confidence of the afghan government and it would lead to a collapse even faster. i appreciate in hind sight people are saying, why didn't you do this and that. we will do our after action report. the focus now today is getting all those sib's out. we are working day and night to make that happen. the president has made a commitment to do so. we'll do exactly the job he has set out as our mission.
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we have sib's who have come through the process. there are others who have not implemented -- completed the process. others will be notified shortly i'm sure. >> thank you very much. we're going do keep doing our work. thank you all. take care. >> under the assumption that you may have a question or two remaining, i'm happy to entertain those. >> what happens after august 31st if your intention is still to go ahead with the complete withdrawal if you haven't completed a full
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processing or evacuation of afghans that want to get out. what happens to them after august 31st? >> we have made the general point that we are going to do as much as we can for as many people as we can for as long as we can. as you know, the president number of weeks ago indicated and department of defense indicated that our military forces would leave afghanistan by the end of august. i make a couple of points. even when we no longer have a military presence in afghanistan, our humanitarian support for the people of afghanistan will persist. we talked about how we have capable partners on the ground, many of which remain present in afghanistan despite the uncertain security situation who are able to operationalize that
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humanitarian assistance. it was on monday night when president biden authorized another $500 million in emergency fund and that would include for internally displaced people in afghanistan, afghan refugees in the region. it could include funding for sib's who relocated to the united states. it is a funding source that is quite flexible in that we expect to put to good use. back to your question, you asked about august 31st. the fact of the matter is, we are going to do as much as we can for as long as we can. if the window is two week, we will make the most that window. if the window is slightly longer, we will make the most that window. we are going to prioritize the safety and security of our diplomats on the ground, other
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service members who are providing protection and facilitating of these operations. we know that with every passing day, we will be in position to bring to safety whether through repatriation, potentially thousands of additional afghans. we'll do everything we can to make the most of the time we have. but to explore if there's more time that we may have. we will do that any number of ways. you've heard deputy secretary. you heard me talk about the channels of communication we have the taliban. that first was primarily conducted through doha. that channel continues to exist. u.s. military has a channel with the taliban as well. admiral kirby has talked about. these channels have been
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constructed. we have used thee channels to good effect. it is our intent to continue to use these channels to pursue what is in our interest but also what is in the interest of the afghan people. if we can find additional time, if we can find additional ways to bring additional people to safety, whether that is in the united states, third country or anywhere else, we will absolutely do just that. >> is it still your policy for anyone seeking p2 status that they have would have to apply from a third country? >> there are several different categories of individuals that we are looking at and seeking to
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repatriate or bring to safety in a third country. we talked about -- first of course, american citizens, that process is ongoing. our locally employed staff, -- >> i'm talking about the group you mentioned week or two where you expanding this category. we had a long conversation about this. the requirement was, they could only seek a status from a third country. is that still the case? is there some sort of humanitarian -- are they going to be responsible for making their way to third world country before they seek that status? >> in all of this, we have explored every avenue that we can to bring as many people to safety as we can. if there are individuals who have been notified who fall within that p2 status, have been
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notified to come to the airport, we will work to get them on a plane. we will work to relocate as many individuals in the so called priority one status and so called priority two status. other afghans at risk, the answer is yes. we are going to do everything we can. i want to reiterate one point. we are being deliberate in our communications with american citizens in afghanistan, private american citizens with the les community with the sib community, with those in other categories to include priority 1 and 2, u.s. refugee, missions program and referral. in a of this, it is very important that all of these issues followed the precise instructions that will be provided to them and some cases have been provided to them by the embassy.
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we have done in a systematic way to ensure that this process is as orderly but ultimately as effective as it can be managed. we know who that effective and order, we will be able to bring people to safety. >> on women's right, you mentioned the u.s. would not recognize taliban government that supports terrorism. is it respect for women's right is a red line for you? >> women's rights, are human rights. human rights are women's rights. >> do you recognize them if they do not keep to the commitments they made about women being able to exercise? >> what we are going to be looking for, beyond words, beyond proclamation, beyond
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press conferences are the follow through. with the taliban uphold their responsibility that the international community recognizes to uphold and protect the rights of all of their citizens. yes, women's rights are human rights. for us, that is absolutely vital. i should say, it is not just us. this is the broad international community speaking with one voice. let me spend a moment on others, european union minister of foreign affairs of the eu --
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[indiscernible] you've been reading statements for days here. >> rich, it's all part and parcel to forge conditions on the ground. to help shape conditions on the ground. send a very clear signal to the taliban. that their behavior, their actions will have concrete consequences. we can say that our partners, like-minded partners can say that. when the rest of the world says that, it does send a very important message. yes, this is critically important. this is what the state department does. this is what any number context help to moderate the behavior of governments, regime forces the rest of the world over. it's about more than recognition. it's about more than legitimacy. it is a matter of support. it's a matter of character and
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assistance. it's a party of accountability. it is making clear to a group like the taliban that they will be held accountable in meaningful and profound ways. should they not do so. i won't belabor the point, the european union all of their ministers of foreign affairs saying they call on all parties in afghanistan to respect all commitment and political solutions. the canadians have been outspoken on this, prime minster trudeau i'm sure you seen what he said. nato secretary-general said their effort to establish some inclusive government, many national actors called for that. we will not give another cent to the taliban. if the taliban introduces sharia
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law. >> how the united states and international community issue out there. they may end up not caring at the end of the day. how can these aspirations be enforced? >> they may not care about these general concepts like legitimacy and recognition. >> they haven't in the past. >> correct. what this does -- [indiscernible] >> the question was about the airport. i'm happy to talk about the airport. [indiscernible] >> i'm answering the question that was asked of me. >> in afghanistan, we're hearing the flights are leaving that are not completely full, or half full. is this a problem with people getting to the airport?
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what's the hold up on that >> our goal is to have every single seat filled on every single aircraft that takes off from the airport. we are most responsible for the u.s. military flight that's taking off. as you have heard, it was a couple of days ago now that we issued notification to the first bunch of american citizens that indicated a desire to be repatriate. just recently, we have notified all americans in afghanistan who have expressed desire to be repatriated. they should consider going to
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hamad karzai airport. we can help it. a single unused seat on the aircrafts. we are shifting our tactics. we are reaching out to community of people who maybe eligible and interested in relocation. we expect the number of people who relocated to continue to climb the coming days. that's our hope. >> do you have a number how many officials working on this issue? >> you heard from the deputy secretary friday, we would have doubled the number of counselor officer who are working this on the ground in kabul. let me make one other point.
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>> doubling from two to four -- >> i can be more explicit. it is not doubling from two to four. in these fluid security environments we don't give precise numbers. let me make another point that is relevant. the security environment even then was fluid. we were taking prudent precautions, minimizing the size of our civilian footprint with that ordered departure stat, the primer functions of individuals at our embassy was two fold. number one was security. we were never going to have fewer security officials than necessary. number two, was conflict. counselor officers.
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we sent additional officers in kabul precisely so they can work on this challenge of the sib processing. this is a challenge. when we came in office, there were more than 70,000 individuals in this backlog. when we came in office, not a single sib interview had been conducted since march 2020. covid had a say in that. it was a different operating environment. within two weeks of this administration taking office, those interviews have resumed. we were able to expedite the processing time for sib applications over that time. we took number of visas granted.
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we knew our commitment to these individual who stood by us over the past 20 years. we would need to do everything we could. even in the midst of the covid outbreak that has been ongoing since march of last year and the covid outbreak that the deputy secretary mentioned. the covid outbreak that was impactful on embassy kabul in june and july of this month. we have prioritized this program since day one. you see it. you see it in the speed with which we have accelerated the processing over time. you see that commitment now on your television screens almost every single day. we are doing something that no
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other administration had conceived of. airlift operations to relocate these individuals. this administration, has done something no other administration did. by mounting and airlift operation to physically relocate these individuals to begin their new lives in the united states. >> our colleague john said from the "washington post" asked this, you can answer whether the united states is willing to resettle up to 200,000 afghan refugees, can the united states commit to that? >> we can commit to doing as much as we can for as many
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people as we can. i don't want to put a number on it. we are going to keep running 1000 miles per hour for as long as we can. >> i wanted to -- [indiscernible] i appreciate that joe biden spoke with justin yesterday and how you feel about the taliban and getting people out. british lawmakers were unhappy with his time line to begin with. now they're very unhappy with the chaotic exit. they've been criticizing the policy failure that is not only an embarrassment for the united states but an embarrassment and weakens the west as well as the u.s. how do you respond to that broader point? there's a bigger patriot here. >> i'm not going to respond to criticism directed at a foreign counterpart. the britts have been one of our closest allies.
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>> the britts are making that criticism of you. >> i thought you were criticism that the prime minster was saying. in they are saying that the united states policy is a failure which is embarrassing and weakening not only the bust the west. they are saying that as a partner of the united states >> we certainly have an extraordinary partner in the british government as you said, president biden had an opportunity to speak with the prime minster yesterday. they read out that call. we worked closely with our british allies on this. we worked closely with our broader nato allies. the secretary has been to one city more than any other cities during his time as secretary in the past 6 or 7 months. we have gone there multiple times. >> they are saying that you heard from them but you kind of presented them with a -- they
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weren't happy with the timetable in the first place. now it's -- not only the united states who suffer reputation but its partners as well. >> i'm going to let the british government speak to their decisions when it comes to their presentation on the ground. our coordination with the british government, with all of our nato allies has been consistent. it has been clear. there's been a consensus on this. when we went to brussels in late march, it was an opportunity to sit down with and to hear from and gather with secretary austin, our nato allies. to hear what the alliance was thinking. when we went there in april, it was to express the mantra that we always knew would be true. in together, adjust together and out together. the nato, the nac put out a
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unanimous statement that affirms that principle. we have seen and heard the nato alliance speak with one voice on this. i know in the game of politics whether here or london, there will always be critics and naysayers. this president has been in clear and decisive terms that the commitment that united states fulfilled to afghanistan. about the mission went there to pursue, about the conditions that we inherited and about his profound obligation to the safety and security of the american people. we've been clear about that. other governments have been clear about that. [indiscernible]
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what's your message to taiwan and ukraine. >> our message to all of our partners around the world is to -- it's clearly reflected in our actions. in this country, the actions, both over the past two decades and now. no country has done more. i said this many times. no country has done more for the country of afghanistan for the people of afghanistan. no country has done more in the context of afghanistan to energize and to concentrate the attention of the international community. there's nothing more important to us when it comes to our eforeign policy and diplomacy. they are unrivaled. they are unparallel. they are the envy of our adversaries.
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we know that they are a profound source of strength. that is precisely why you have seen us invest in them you have seen us invest in nato, will have seen us invest in the indo-pacific in ways that go beyond what previous administrations have done. you have seen us stand by our partners whether that is taiwan. whether it is israel. whether it is any other country, any other entity with whom we have a rock solid partnership and a commitment. you will see the united states under this administration, standing by those commitments, precisely because we recognized how important they are, how important they are for our partners but also, how important they are as a source of strength for us. that is not going to change. i will take a final question. >> we have reports on the ground that the taliban are turning
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away people at their own impromptu check points. what guidance is the u.s. giving to the taliban about who they should be letting through to the airport? in terms of folks getting to the airport, if there's an afghan who shows up and haven't been alerted but they are some stage and sib or p2 process, are they going to be allowed to get on the flights or do they have to received that notification from the state? >> our message about safe passage is more than just our message. it is a message that the taliban and the international community have now heard in the exact same verbage for more than 100 countries. the word seeks a safe passage. >> i'm talking about what you telling the taliban about who should get through?
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>> what we're telling them is that civilians should be afforded safe passage. >> any civilian? >> civilians should be afforded safe passage. whether it's in kabul or anywhere else. should be restricted. safe passage is important for all civilians in afghanistan. [indiscernible] >> i understand that. what we have been doing is -- this is the joint statement. the joint statement makes it clear that those in position of power and authority across afghanistan who bear responsibility and accountability for the protection of human life and property for the immediate restoration of security. those positions of power bear
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responsibility for the protection of human life and property. >> you want the taliban to leave the streets anywhere close to the airport because if they are preventing people from getting to the airport -- >> they should not come to the airport you unless or until they receive a specific message from the embassy that they should consider doing so. >> the united states would use every diplomatic economic and political tool to ensure that safe passage. she did not mention any military
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tool. which i believe is a condition of making sure that americans can get to the airport. is there any kind of assurances that afghans can have that the united states will ensure their safe passage to the airport via military action. >> we made it clear, first in doha and in the ground in afghanistan. any effort to target to intimidate, to inflict violence on our people or to impede our operations -- >> i mean americans, not afghans afghans? >> the operations we are undertaking to relocate american citizens but also the broader categories of vulnerable afghans. that will be met a swift and decisive response. >> there's another problem, there are reports that some people gotten through the taliban check points.
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who are manifested on flights. have been turned away by the u.s. military. given that we have a situation, -- some of government, what have you guys told the military to do? what are they supposed to do? >> i'm not in position to go into interagency back-and-forth from the podium. >> you're happy to go into the fact that you talked taliban, you're not going to say what you told the pentagon? >> about sensitive ongoing operation? >> about afghans told to show up. having the seat on the plane and being turned away, american troops -- i recognize this might be a very small universe of people because they have to get through the taliban check points first.
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there are cases of this happening. >> when you look at the number of people we have been able to relocate, more than 2000 people over the past 24 hours. that is an indicator. that these individuals have been able to secure safe passage for themselves. what we are working to do is to facilitate safe passage through diplomacy. through every tool. when it comes to the message we have sent, this is a message that we sent very directly to the taliban even as the security situation remains fluid and they continue to evolve. when it came our operations and our personnel, any effort to impede, to potentially put at risk our personnel, would be met with a swift and decisive
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response. [indiscernible] >> we have heard and many of you have heard, there are generous offers of support from countries around the world. these are countries who in some cases, if quite moving ways. if you look at the statement, for example, that the albanian prime minster put out about his country's pledge to accept vulnerable afghans. it is quite moving. speak about the albanian's commitment of their own experience. it has been and you heard the deputy-secretary speak to this both -- today and the call she hosted with 19 of her
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counterparts. her team has been working the phones nonstop. doing all we can to encourage countries around the world to make good on their generosity, to recognize the common humanity of those who are seeking to flee the violence or the seeking to flee unstable and uncertain situation in afghanistan. this has been something we have been working very hard and very concerted. we have been gratified by the number of countries that stepped up because we know the need is great. we welcome very much the generous offers that so many countries have put forward. thank you very much. >> i'm seeing reports there's some cases of savannah syndrome
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in berlin. can you speak to that? what is the state department doing to protect its staff? >> i am. i seen these reports, of course. this is something that we vigorously investigate. so called unexplained health incidents in coordination with our partners across the country. any employee who have reported a possible unexplained health incident, we have received immediate and appropriate attention and care. these health incidents have been a top priority for secretary blinken. i think i mentioned this before, he proactively requested two sets of briefings during the transition. this is one of them. even before he was secretary of state, he wanted to know precisely what we knew, what this department knew at the time
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and what we were doing to respond to this. he has set clear goals for what we call here the response task force to strengthen the communication with our workforce, to provide care for affected employee and family members and to protect against these incidents, working together with the interagency. of course, to find the cost what has been afflicting these members of our team. he noted to the workforce, it was a couple of weeks ago, there's nothing we take more seriously than the health of our workforce. that's why there is a major effort under way in this department. there's a major effort under way across the interagency to determine the cause and to
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provide the level of care, the level of communication, the level of feedback that our employees need and deserve. this is a priority and ambassador sprattland, secretary blinken named her as the head of the task force. she works very closely with the deputy-secretary management and resources on this. they are working very closely in turn with secretary blinken. we'll continue to do that. we'll continue to work with our interagency partners to ensure that our employees both those who have been affected, have what they need and those serving around the world that we are doing everything we can. we don't speak to cases anywhere. >> this is a follow-up from my
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previous question. [indiscernible] >> right now, there are -- there's an effort to establish transit countries. as you know, the secretary has been in contact with some of his counterparts to thank them for offering their country as temporary transit countries. >>
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