White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that U.S. policy is still not to negotiate with terrorists, despite the Biden administration relying heavily on the statements and promises by Taliban leaders to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan.
During her daily press briefing, Psaki was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy “Why haven’t we heard the president say, ‘The United States does not negotiate with terrorists?’ Is that still U.S. policy?”
“Well, of course it is, Peter,” Psaki replied. “But I would also say that there’s a reality that the Taliban is currently controlling large swaths of Afghanistan. That is the reality on the ground, and right now our focus and our priority is getting American citizens evacuated and our Afghan partners evacuated.
“And I would say, given the numbers that we’ve outlined and briefed for you that we’ve made a great deal of progress doing exactly that,” she added.
Psaki was also asked by a different reporter whether the Biden administration had offered the Taliban any cash or supplies in exchange for their cooperation in the U.S. evacuation effort.
“No, this is not a ‘quid pro quo,’” Psaki responded. “We have laid out clearly what our expectations are about moving American citizens and our Afghan partners, allies, out of the country and that’s what we’re working to deliver on.”
Psaki’s comments come as tens of thousands of Americans, allies, Afghans who assisted coalition forces and others who are vulnerable to Taliban violence struggle to flee Afghanistan since the central government collapsed to insurgents on Aug. 15.
U.S. troops are confined to the airport in Kabul and have a Taliban-backed Aug. 31 deadline to get out. The Biden administration has vowed to get all U.S. citizens out of the country by the deadline, but it leaves to question what will come of the Special Immigrant Visa holders that are reportedly being blocked by the Taliban from accessing the airport.
The Biden administration has said it doesn’t trust the Taliban, but has repeatedly called on the Islamic militant group to allow people to safely access the airport and to refrain from violence.