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Biden Secretary of State: US Embassy Staff Being Evacuated in Kabul

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the United States is evacuating its personnel from the embassy in Kabul, although he did not say whether the embassy would be shut down.

“We are working to make sure that our personnel are safe and secure,” Blinken said during an ABC News interview on Sunday. “We’re relocating the men and women of our embassy to a location at the airport. It’s why the president sent in a number of forces, to make sure that as we continue to draw down our diplomatic presence we do it in a safe and orderly fashion,” he added.

The Taliban, a designated terrorist group, surrounded Kabul over the weekend. The Afghan government and Taliban both confirmed on Sunday that talks are being held to transfer power peacefully.

In about a week, the group took over much of the country, seizing numerous provincial capitals as the Afghan army surrendered en masse in many locations.

When asked on the ABC News segment about whether the U.S. Embassy was shutting down in its entirety, Blinken didn’t give a direct answer.

Although the United States has long sought to remove its presence from the South Asian country after invading shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the swift advances made by the Taliban on Kabul have been likened to the fall of Saigon when Vietnamese communists took over the country in 1975, providing a number of enduring images of embassy staff fleeing the country on helicopters.

Chopper flies over the U.S. Embassy
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 15, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

“Let’s take a step back. This is manifestly not Saigon,” said Blinken during the ABC News segment, pushing back against the comparison. The invasion of Afghanistan, he added, succeeded in taking out Osama bin Laden and reducing the capacity of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The fact that the United States killed bin Laden, who has been accused of being a chief orchestrator of the Sept. 11 attacks, “should ring out very strongly,” Blinken later said.

Late on Sunday night local time, the Taliban issued an online statement saying the terrorist fighters were ordered to enter Kabul.

“Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” said a Taliban spokesman earlier Sunday.

American diplomats were seen being evacuated from their embassy by helicopters after a swift advance by the terrorists.

President Joe Biden on Saturday authorized the deployment of 5,000 U.S. troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an “orderly and safe” drawdown of military personnel.

The State Department confirmed to The Epoch Times on Friday that it also directed staff to destroy sensitive documents and other materials ahead of the Taliban advance.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Senior Reporter

Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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