Sep 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Blinken calls on Taliban to allow charter flights to leave Afghanistan

Blinken speaking

Antony Blinken at a press conference following a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Sept. 8. Photo: Olivier Douliery/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Taliban leaders Wednesday to allow charter flights to leave Afghanistan, saying it would demonstrate the group's "willingness to respect freedom of movement."

Driving the news: For days, the Taliban has been preventing the departures of at least four chartered evacuation flights from Mazar-e-Sharif airport, in northern Afghanistan.

  • Blinken previously denied reports that the Taliban was preventing people with valid documents from leaving.

What he's saying: "An immediate way the Taliban can demonstrate its willingness to respect freedom of movement is by allowing the departure of charter flights with properly documented passengers," Blinken said.

  • "I think all of you know there are a number of such flights that have been waiting in Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • "We’ve heard in some of our engagements with the Taliban their concern about a so-called brain drain and people with knowledge and expertise leaving the country.
  • "The best way to get people to stay in Afghanistan is to allow them to leave Afghanistan, as well as to uphold their basic rights."
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