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Video: Biden White House calls Taliban ‘businesslike and professional’

A Taliban fighter (right) searches the bags of people coming out of the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
September 10, 2021

On Thursday as the Taliban allowed a flight of around 200 people — including dozens of Americans — to leave Afghanistan, the White House described the militant group as “businesslike and professional.”

In a Thursday statement, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said, “The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step.”

While some Americans, along with other western foreign nationals, were permitted to fly out of the Kabul airport on Thursday, hundreds of Americans, foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans remain grounded at another airport in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban was refusing to let those flights take off over claims some of the passengers don’t have the required documentation to leave.

Following Horne’s statement, Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the administration’s “businesslike” characterization of the Taliban.

“Can you explain a little bit more about why the White House, in a statement, is calling the Taliban “businesslike and professional?” Doocy asked.

Psaki responded, “Well, I would note that in that statement, what we were announcing was the fact that a Qatari airlines flight successfully landed in Qatar with American citizens, legal permanent residents, and Afghans on board who joined us in our fight over the last several years. We wanted to note that the Taliban was cooperative in facilitating the departure of these American citizens and legal permanent presidents from HKIA.”

“We promised we would get American citizens out,” Psaki continued. “We promised we would get legal permanent residents out. We promised we would get our Afghan partners out. And we promised we’d press the Taliban to get them out. And that’s exactly what we did.”

The Biden administration had previously said it would keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan as long as Americans still needed to be evacuated. On August 18, Biden said, “We’re going stay to get them all out.” Despite that earlier assurance, the last U.S. forces left Afghanistan while an unknown number of Americans are still seeking evacuation.

During their Thursday exchange, Doocy went on to note the Taliban recently named Sirajuddin Haqqani, a member of the terrorist Haqqani Network currently wanted by the FBI, to a leadership role within their new government.

“You’re saying the Taliban is ‘businesslike and professional.’ Their Interior Minister has an FBI Wanted poster,” Doocy said. “He’s got a $10 million bounty on his head.  That’s — what’s the business?”

Psaki responded, “We are here to celebrate the return of American citizens who wanted to leave Afghanistan, of legal permanent residents, of Afghans who fought by our side, to Qatar — successfully on a Qatari airlines flight. And in order to get those people out, we had to work with some members of the Taliban to press them and to work in a businesslike manner to get them out.  That is what we were stating in the statement.”

Doocy continued, saying, “In that statement, it says, ‘This is a positive first step.’ Towards what?”

“Towards getting additional people out who want to leave Afghanistan,” Psaki said.