Antony J. Blinken, speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 19, 2021. (Photo by Alex Edelman / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Secretary Of State Blinken defends U.S. pullout as Kabul embassy staff evacuate
By Dave Mistich/NPR
(Washington)–U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning as the U.S. rushes to evacuate staff in the capital of Kabul.
“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 said.
Blinken deflected a follow-up question as to whether the evacuations meant the embassy was being shut down entirely. He also rejected comparing Sunday’s scene in Afghanistan to a frantic exodus from Vietnam in 1975.
“Let’s take a step back. This is manifestly not Saigon,” said Blinken, saying the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 had succeeded in its primary goal, getting rid of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Other U.S. officials described the situation as more dire.
“The majority of staff is out” of the embassy in Kabul, according to one official who asked not to be named. The official told NPR: “we are operating at an alternate location. Flag is down. gunfire at airport.”