UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The United States in the past three days has taken out of Afghanistan more than 3,000 Afghans who were in danger, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
"You know, we are working around the clock to get vulnerable Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan out of Afghanistan. We have secured the airport and we are getting planes out 24 hours a day," Thomas-Greenfield told CNN in an interview.
"In the past three days we’ve moved more than 3,000 people, and we will continue to take people out who are vulnerable as quickly as we possibly can until we finish the job," she said.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States on Tuesday evacuated more than 1,000 citizens from Afghanistan, according to a White House press pool report.
"Today, US military flights evacuated approximately 1,100 US citizens, US permanent residents, and their families on 13 flights, 12 with C-17 sorties and one with a C-130. Now that we have established the flow, we expect those numbers to escalate," a White House official said.
"We have evacuated more than 3,200 people so far, including our personnel. In addition to these more than 3,200 total evacuated, we have relocated nearly 2,000 Afghan special immigrants to the United States," the official said.
LONDON (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation in Afghanistan with US President Joe Biden, and outlined his intention to increase humanitarian aid to the region, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
"The Prime Minister spoke to US President Biden this evening about the current situation in Afghanistan. The leaders welcomed US and UK cooperation in recent days to help evacuate our nationals, current and former staff, and others from Afghanistan. They resolved to continue working closely together on this in the days and weeks ahead to allow as many people as possible to leave the country," the statement said.
It said Johnson and Biden agreed on the need for the global community to join efforts to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
"The Prime Minister outlined UK plans including increased humanitarian aid to the region and resettlement of refugees," the Office said.
"President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke today regarding developments in Afghanistan," the White House said in a press release on Tuesday. "They also discussed the need for continued close coordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan policy going forward, including ways the global community can provide further humanitarian assistance and support for refugees and other vulnerable Afghans."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US Department of State is not excluding the possibility of American diplomats staying in Afghanistan beyond August 31 if it was “responsible” to do so, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
“If it is safe and responsible for us to potentially stay longer [than August 31], that is something that we may be able to look at,” Price said at a press briefing when asked how long will the US diplomatic mission stay in Kabul.
ASHINGTON (Sputnik) - White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a press briefing on Tuesday that he, Biden and others in the government are taking responsibility for US decisions related to the Afghan exit.
"[Biden]’s taking responsibility for every decision the United States government took with respect to Afghanistan, because as he said, ‘the buck stops with him.’ I am also taking responsibility and so are my colleagues," Sullivan said.
Biden has come under fire for the botched evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan, with footage gone viral this week depicting chaos at the Kabul airport reminiscent of the 1975 fall of Saigon.
During a speech on Monday, after blaming the swift collapse of Kabul on Afghan government forces, Biden said he would not shrink from sharing responsibility for the current situation. He also said "the buck stops with me," and he would not pass responsibility for the Afghan war to a fifth president.
He also said he would not "mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Frank McKenzie said on Tuesday he visited the airport in Kabul to assess the situation amid mass evacuation from Afghanistan.
“Today, I had an opportunity to evaluate the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport and engage with U.S. military leaders on the ground providing security to the airport,” McKenzie said, as quoted by a CENTCOM statement. “I saw firsthand our defensive lay down and the work our forces are doing to efficiently operate the airfield while ensuring the safe movement of civilians and diplomats who are leaving Kabul.”
Currently, the airfield is secure and now open to civilian air traffic operating under visual flight rules, he added.
McKenzie noted that during his meeting with Taliban senior officials in Doha last Sunday he cautioned them against interference in the evacuation process.
US @CENTCOM Cmdr Gen Frank McKenzie visits Hamid Karzai Int'l Airport in #Kabul— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) August 17, 2021
US personnel "rapidly scaling up operations to ensure the smooth flow of military reinforcements to the airport & the evacuation of US & partner civilians" per McKenzie in statement pic.twitter.com/IZemM1kbVC
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has completed the drawdown of its core diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, but some embassy staff remain to assist with evacuation efforts at Kabul's international airport, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
"We've now completed our drawdown to the core diplomatic presence we need and at this time we no longer need to facilitate departures for our Embassy personnel," Price said during a press briefing. "All remaining embassy staff will be assisting departures from Afghanistan."
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The top US military commanders on Tuesday briefed President Joe Biden about the security situation at the Kabul airport and the ongoing operation to evacuate US citizens and allies from Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a press briefing.
"This morning, the president spoke with his military commanders for an operational briefing on the security at the Hamid Karzai International Airport", Sullivan said.
Biden held a separate meeting with his national security team to receive updates on intelligence and diplomatic matters regarding Afghanistan, Sullivan added.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The UN Security Council is presently having no discussions of possible exclusion of the Taliban from the terrorist list, a source in the Security Council told Sputnik on Tuesday.
"There are no such talks so far", the source said. "The Security Council is closely following the situation in Afghanistan. At this stage, we continue to assume that it is important of observing Security Council Resolution 2513. Any steps of the Security Council will be discussed additionally, taking into account the further development of the situation in the country".
"The first objective, the priority is to ensure the evacuation in the best conditions of security of European nationals still present in the country and also the Afghan citizens who work with us for more than 20 years and who want to leave the country. We cannot abandon them", EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
KABUL (Sputnik) - The forces of Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh have recaptured the Charikar area in the Parwan Province north of Kabul from the Taliban (terrorist movement, banned in Russia); currently, battles with the Taliban are taking place on the outskirts of the Panjshir Gorge in the vicinity of this province, a military source in Kabul told Sputnik.
"The forces of the first vice-president of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh, have regained control over the Charikar region in Parwan province. Fighting is now going on in the Panjshir region", the source said.
A strategically important road passes through Charikar through the Salang tunnel, which connects Kabul with Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in northern Afghanistan.
Earlier, Saleh said that, unlike the fled President Ashraf Ghani, he remained in the country and, according to the constitution, was the caretaker president.
"The Taliban guaranteed amnesty to all those who were loyal to the regime, served for it, worked for it, including the military. They assume that it was their job, they followed orders. Neither ethnic cleansing nor any kind of reprisals and violence from the side [of the Taliban]. I emphasize, this is my impression here and now, as of this evening", Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov said on the air of the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.
WASHINGTON, August 17 (Sputnik) – The international airport in Kabul is open for military and civilian aircraft alike with flights able to land and depart, a White House official said on Tuesday.
"The Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKAI) is open, and flights are able to land and depart, including on the civilian side. As of this morning, there are 3,500 troops on the ground at HKAI", the official said told reporters.
"We are following our policy, and that policy is that we will not allow anyone, any group, individual to use Afghanistan against any country, including the USA … We have agreed [on it] on the basis of the Doha agreement. We are abiding by that," Suhail Shaheen told Sky News.
LONDON (Sputnik) - Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the United States must withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by 11 September, and assured that the movement has no intention to attack them anyway.
"They should get their troops out of Afghanistan ... They announced they will withdraw all their forces by September 11, so they should withdraw all their forces but we are committed not to attacking. And we have not attacked it," Shaheen told Sky News.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) announced on 17 August a suspension of all the flights at the Kabul airport, Sky News Arabia reported
The Taliban are shooting in the air to disperse crows at the airport, according to Al Jazeera.
BERLIN (Sputnik) - The German government has suspended economic aid to Afghanistan, the DPA agency reported on 17 August, citing Economic Development Minister Gerd Muller.
The aid was suspended after the Taliban (banned in Russia) takeover.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov is holding a meeting with a representative of the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), the embassy told Sputnik on 17 August.
Zhirnov has said that he intends to discuss issues related to the security of the embassy with the Taliban.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The failure in Afghanistan should have been admitted earlier, while now it is important to learn lessons and avoid a repetition of mistakes, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told Sputnik on 17 August.
"Failure should have been admitted earlier. Now it is important to learn lessons and to at least avoid a repetition of such mistakes ... This idea was unsuccessful from the very beginning, although Russia supported it at the first stage. Like many similar projects, it was based on exaggerated threats and some not quite clear geopolitical plans, followed by unrealistic attempts to democratise a multi-tribal society", Gorbachev said.
TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japan is temporarily closing its embassy in Afghanistan due to escalating tensions and opening a temporary representative office in Istanbul to continue diplomatic efforts, the Japanese Foreign Ministry told Sputnik on 17 August.
"On 15 August, the Japanese Embassy in Afghanistan was temporarily closed due to the rapid deterioration of the regional security. A temporary representative office was set up in Istanbul, Turkey, to continue performing duties. All of the embassy's 12 employees left Kabul on 17 August aboard a military aircraft of a friendly nation and were taken to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates", the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The remaining four South Korean citizens, including the ambassador, have left Afghanistan, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 17 August.
On 15 August, Seoul temporarily closed its embassy in Kabul and evacuated most of its staff. Three more employees, including the ambassador, remained in the country to assist the evacuation of the last-remaining Korean citizen, who did not leave the country on time despite the South Korean government's warning.
"Laura and I have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness. Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much."
BEIJING (Sputnik) - Russia is ready to compare notes with China on the development of the situation in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
"The change in the situation in Afghanistan will have a complex impact on the situation in the world. The Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia), said that the war in Afghanistan is over, that they have begun to ensure public order in Kabul, and are ready to guarantee the safety of diplomatic missions of all countries", Lavrov said as quoted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"The Russian side is ready to timely compare notes with China on the development of the situation and changes in Afghanistan and to jointly respond to them", he said.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed the situation in Afghanistan with the European Union and NATO, as well as top UK and Turkish diplomats, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke separately with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission [Josep] Borrell, NATO Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg, Turkish Foreign Minister [Mevlut] Çavuşoğlu, and UK Foreign Secretary [Dominic] Raab about Afghanistan, including the developing situation and our efforts to bring our citizens to safety and assist vulnerable Afghans", Price said.
"The secretary expressed his profound appreciation for the EU, NATO, Turkey, and the UK’s efforts in Afghanistan", the spokesperson said.
On 15 August, the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia) completed their takeover of Afghanistan by entering Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country to prevent what he described as bloodshed if the militants had to fight for the city. Most countries have reduced or evacuated their diplomatic missions in the country following the said events.