Griffin asks Pentagon spokesman about US negotiating with former Gitmo detainees
Admiral John Kirby tells Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin the U.S. military is in talks with Taliban leaders in an effort to safely evacuate United States citizens
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that President Biden has not spoken with any other world leaders since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban over the weekend, as the president remains at Camp David amid frantic efforts to evacuate Americans and U.S. allies from the country.
“He has not yet spoken with any other world leaders,” Sullivan said in a press briefing Tuesday.
“Myself, Secretary Blinken, several other senior members of the team have been engaged on a regular basis with foreign counterparts, and we intend to do so in the coming days,” Sullivan added. “Right now, the main issue is an operational issue. It’s about how we coordinate with them to help them get their people out. And we are operating through logistical channels and policy channels to try to make that happen.”
The Taliban conquered Afghanistan city-by-city last week before entering the country’s presidential palace on Sunday evening. That same day all American personnel evacuated the Kabul embassy, taking the flag with them and leaving the facility unguarded.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Biden during that time was in Delaware and at Camp David as he took a sort of working vacation from the White House. The president came under intense pressure to address the deteriorating situation Sunday and Monday amid scenes of desperate Afghans hoping to escape Taliban rule. Many flooded the Kabul airport with some even clinging to American jets as they took off.
The president did eventually fly from Camp David to the White House to give a speech. It criticized for largely blaming former President Donald Trump and Afghans themselves for the human rights disaster.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said.
“When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban,” Biden also said. “U.S. forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country, and the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.”
Biden flew back to Camp David immediately after his speech, which drew even further criticism that he was not sufficiently engaged on the Afghanistan crisis and was not taking responsibility for it. But Sullivan defended the president and the White House’s national security team on Tuesday.
“He’s taking responsibility for every decision the United States government took with respect to Afghanistan because as he said the buck stops with him,” Sullivan said. “I am also taking responsibility and so are my colleagues – the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff., the directors of our intelligence agencies.”
Sullivan added: “We as a national security team collectively take responsibility for every decision, good decision, every decision that doesn’t produce perfect outcomes. That is what responsibility is. Now, at the same time, that doesn’t change the fact that there are other parties here responsible as well who have taken actions and decisions that helped lead us to where we are. ”
The US Embassy flag is flown out of Kabul in this photograph provided to Fox News. (Fox News)
As of Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. military had secured the Kabul airport and reopened it to air traffic with the aim of evacuating American citizens and allies on both government and civilian aircraft.
The U.S. State Department was also telling some Americans in stages to make their way to the airport to be evacuated.
But the Taliban on at least some occasions was beating people on their way to the airport at checkpoints it had set up. And according to CBS News, the government said in those alerts that “cannot guarantee your security as you make this trip.”
Fox News’ Rich Edson, Jennifer Griffin and Daniel Scully contributed to this report.
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