Washington, Aug 18: The Taliban told the US that they would provide safe passage of civilians to Kabul airport, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said.
“The Taliban have informed us that they are prepared to provide the safe passage of civilians to the airport. And we intend to hold them to that commitment,” Sullivan told reporters in a White House briefing on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the US believes the evacuation underway in Kabul could last until the end of this month. “We’re talking to them (the Taliban) about what the exact timetable is for how this will all play out.”
Sullivan said it is still too early to judge whether the Taliban is the legitimate governing power in the country.
“Right now, there is a chaotic situation in Kabul where we don’t even have the establishment of a governing authority,” he said.
“Ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Taliban to show the rest of the world who they are and how they intend to proceed. The track record has not been good, but it’s premature to address that question at this point,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that US commanders on the ground had discussions with the Taliban outside the airport, without providing further details.
Over 4,000 US troops would be on the ground by the end of Tuesday to support the evacuation mission, and US troops had no hostile interactions with the Taliban, according to US Army Major General Hank Taylor.
He said Kabul airport remains secure, and 5,000 to 9,000 people could be evacuated per day.
President Joe Biden, facing mounting criticisms from the public and lawmakers over the chaotic evacuation, said Monday that he stands by his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan while acknowledging Kabul’s collapse came much sooner than Washington had anticipated.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani left the country on Sunday, while the Taliban forces entered the capital of Kabul and took control of the presidential palace.