US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad instructed senators in a Tuesday listening to that some diplomats who “are not necessary to be there” and “can do their job from elsewhere” will probably be withdrawn from the embassy.
“It will not affect operation or the capabilities of the embassy. We are very much committed to that,” Khalilzad instructed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A State Department spokesman instructed CNN that “by minimizing the number of employees in Afghanistan whose functions can be performed elsewhere, personnel who are urgently needed to address issues related to the drawdown of US forces and to continue the vital work we are doing in support of Afghanistan and its people will be able to remain in place.”
The State Department spokesperson mentioned the ordered departure impacts “a relatively small number of employees,” noting, “we do not anticipate any changes to our operations and capabilities resulting from this action.”
When requested how the US would proceed diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan with out the safety of US and NATO forces, Khalilzad mentioned the Biden administration will “take the necessary measures to protect that embassy.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, requested whether or not the quantity of diplomats was being decreased as a result of of violence in Kabul.
Khalilzad mentioned that such a call on staffing by the chief of mission would bear in mind the chief’s wants “and the overall circumstances in the country.” Pressed by Menendez if the elevated violence in Kabul can be one of these components taken under consideration, Khalilzad admitted, “That must have been one of them.”
The State Department mentioned it doesn’t talk about personnel numbers or operational particulars for safety causes.
“The Ordered Departure at the US Embassy in Kabul ensures that American diplomacy and support for Afghanistan will be sustainable, robust, and effective,” they mentioned. “This includes our active support of the Afghan peace process and our continued diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian support of the future the Afghan people want, including the gains made by Afghan women.”
An up to date journey advisory issued Tuesday additionally mirrored the ordered departure and warned US residents towards touring to Afghanistan.
“The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation,” the advisory mentioned.
“Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in Afghanistan. Unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State,” it mentioned. “U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk. Additional security measures are needed for any U.S. government employee travel and movement through Afghanistan.”
When Biden introduced the withdrawal of US troops, a senior administration official instructed reporters that the US would hold in Afghanistan solely the navy presence required to guard its diplomatic presence. That footprint stays unclear.
The deployment was authorized by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin late final week as half of a package deal of navy belongings being despatched to the nation to facilitate the US withdrawal, which is because of be full by September 11.
In a information convention there, the highest US diplomat acknowledged this was “a time of transition, and with any transition comes uncertainty, comes concern,” however prompt there was an understanding amongst US and Afghan officers that Afghanistan had modified from the nation it was in 2001 and even 2011, and thus they should construct out “a partnership for our two countries fitting for 2021.”
Blinken instructed the embassy personnel, “I can only imagine that for many of you this time feels particularly stressful and maybe even emotional. You all serve one of the most challenging posts in the world,” in line with the pool.
“We are committed to Afghanistan and despite the fact that our military forces are leaving Afghanistan, we are not,” he mentioned.
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.
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