Blinken discusses Afghanistan with NATO, Canada, Germany

Washington DC [US], August 13 : US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held phone talks with his Canadian and German counterparts as well as the NATO chief to discuss plans for embassy staff drawdown in Afghanistan, the State Department said.
The Taliban has managed to capture several key provincial capitals over the last several weeks, including the country’s second-largest city Kandahar. This comes as intra-Afghan talks have effectively stalled in Doha. “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke separately today with Canadian Foreign Minister Garneau, German Foreign Minister Maas, and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg to discuss with them the United States’ plans to reduce our civilian footprint in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation,” the US State Department said in a statement on Thursday.
Blinken reiterated the US commitment to maintaining diplomatic and security ties with the Afghan government and working with allies to curb violence in the country and search for a political solution.
On Thursday, Pentagon said the US was set to reduce the diplomatic corps in Afghanistan by August 31. Around 3,000 US troops will be temporarily deployed in Kabul to facilitate the evacuation.
Earlier on Thursday, Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin held talks with Afghan President Ghani and discussed the current security situation in the country and the US plans to reduce America’s civilian footprint in Kabul.
Blinken also re-affirmed that the US is committed to supporting a diplomatic solution to the conflict and enduring partnership with the Afghan people.
“Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III spoke today with President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani to stress that the United States remains invested in the security and stability of Afghanistan in the face of violence by the Taliban,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
“Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin informed President Ghani that the United States is reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul in light of the evolving security situation and will accelerate the tempo of Special Immigration Visa (SIV) flights,” Price added.

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