According to an official US government document and a commercial flight monitoring service, the first aircraft evacuating Afghan interpreters and others who served with Americans in Afghanistan arrived early Friday at Washington Dulles International Airport.
According to FlightAware, an aircraft carrying 221 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 babies, landed at Washington Dulles International Airport in the early morning hours, according to an internal document acquired by The Associated Press.
The evacuation flights, which are resettling former translators and others who fear retaliation from the Taliban in Afghanistan for working with American servicemembers and civilians, highlight American worries about how Afghanistan’s government and military will fare once the last American combat forces leave the country in the coming weeks.
On the flights out, the interpreters and others are accompanied by family members.
They were scheduled to spend several days in Fort Lee, Virginia, according to US authorities earlier this month.
Following aircraft are expected to bring in additional candidates who are farther along in the visa application process, having already received permission and passed security screening.
Pakistan and US NSAs meet in Washington, discuss situation in Afghanistan
Pakistan and the US’s national security advisors met in Washington on Thursday to discuss the “urgent need for reduction in violence and a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan”.
NSA Moeed Yusuf and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan did not disclose their meeting until Thursday evening, when they sent short tweets saying that they discussed other topics of common interest.
The two officials met for the second time after meeting in Geneva in March.
“Had a positive follow-up meeting with NSA Jake Sullivan today in Washington,” Yusuf said in his tweet. “Took stock of progress made since our Geneva meeting and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.”
Yusuf also said that the two sides “agreed to sustain the momentum in Pak-US bilateral cooperation”.
Sullivan dedicated half of his tweet on the Afghan problem, while not mentioning Afghanistan among the topics addressed in the meeting.
“I met with Pakistan’s NSA today to consult on regional connectivity and security, and other areas of mutual cooperation,” he said.
“We discussed the urgent need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement to the conflict.”
Since the Biden administration entered office, the icebreaker in Geneva was the first high-level physical encounter between the two countries.
Before the Geneva conference, US State Secretary Antony Blinken met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa twice. General Bajwa has also been in contact with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Pakistan has a critical role in influencing the Taliban, and that the US expects Islamabad will play that role.
Secretary Blinken made these comments in an interview with different foreign news networks, came as Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, pay a crucial visit to Washington.
“Pakistan has a vital role to play in using its influence with the Taliban to do whatever it can to make sure that the Taliban does not seek to take the country by force,” the top US diplomat told the Times of India channel. “And it does have influence, and it does have a role to play, and we hope that it plays it,” he added.
Secretary Blinken met with External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday to wrap off his two-day visit to India. They discussed the current events in the region, especially in Afghanistan.
Secretary Blinken told ABC News that the entire world is hearing “deeply, deeply troubling” tales of crimes in Afghanistan as the US withdraws.
In an interview to Al Jazeera, the US Secretary of State warned that an Afghanistan that “does not respect the basic gains of the last 20 years, that Afghanistan will be a pariah in the international community.
The interviews, which were made public by the US secretary of state’s office in Washington, show increasing US concerns that the Taliban were intent to seize Kabul by force, rejecting international attempts to form a government that included all Afghan groups.
Despite its commitment to remove all US and Nato forces from Afghanistan by September 15, the Biden administration is using its diplomatic clout to avoid a Taliban takeover, and it sees Pakistan playing a role in this.
While Pakistan likewise wants to avoid a military takeover in Kabul, Prime Minister Imran Khan said this week on PBS News Hour that the United States’ decision to establish a timeline for troop withdrawal has restricted Islamabad’s choices.
The Taliban view the retreat as a triumph, according to the prime minister, and are less open to peace attempts than they would have been if the timeline had not been published.
The Pakistani delegation, which arrived in Washington three days ago, is busy presenting its case to top US officials, legislators, think-tank experts, and journalists.