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tv   State Department Spokesperson Holds Briefing  CSPAN  August 20, 2021 9:43pm-10:51pm EDT

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announcer: state department spokesman ned price briefed reporters on evacuation efforts in afghanistan. since last saturday, 13,000 people have been evacuated from the country. the briefing is just over an hour.
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spokesperson price: good afternoon everyone. first, an update on afghanistan. as he heard we have evacuated approximately 13,000 people on military aircraft since august 14. we have literate -- we have relocated more than 18,000 since last month. u.s. military evacuated 5700 people in the last 24 hours alone. our diplomats, whether in kabul, here in washington, elsewhere around the world, have been working around the clock, and i mean that literally, to core innate thousands of evacuations and line-up partner country to help with the efforts. and lead the groundwork for a
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diplomatic approach moving forward. we are focused on getting many people out safely as possible. our top rarity is the safety and security of the american people. to do that we have set up an unprecedented tax force -- task force with the goal of relocating any u.s. resident in jet -- citizen in afghanistan. hundreds of officers are taking part in this effort. the task force uses all available data to contact u.s. citizens who may still be present in afghanistan to determine how best to assist each one of them. each u.s. citizen who has contacted us and may still be present in afghanistan will receive a personalized communication and in many cases that is a phone call to determine their present location and potential interest in repatriation.
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u.s. citizens requesting assistance with not already completed what is called the rapid assistance request form, which is available on the embassy's website, should do so as soon as possible. we encourage all u.s. suit -- u.s. citizens in afghanistan to enroll in the smart traveler enrollment program regardless of if they need assistance so we can be in a position to communicate important information going forward second, i will share an update on our up going -- our ongoing diplomatic efforts. we've mobilize a global effort through diplomatic channels to evacuate u.s. citizens and at risk from kabul. we sent -- send a special thanks to our partners around the globe. bahrain, denmark, germany, italy, kazakhstan, kuwait, qatar, to jicha stan, turkey, the uae, the u.k., and uzbekistan have been or will soon be transporting americans
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through their territories to safety. albania, canada, colombia, costa rica, chilly, kosovo, north macedonia, mexico, poland, qatar, rwanda, ukraine, and uganda have also made generous offers regarding the relocation efforts for at-risk afghans. we deeply appreciate the support they have offered and are proud to partner with them in their shared support for the afghan people. we are encouraged to other countries are also considering providing additional support and this is something we will continue to be focused. finally this morning secretary blinken stated in a virtual meeting of nato foreign ministers to discuss the ongoing situation afghanistan to safely evacuate our citizens and afghan allies who may be at risk. the allies agreed that any future government must adhere to afghanistan's international
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obligations, safeguard the human rights of all afghans, and that includes of course women, children, and minorities, uphold the rule of law, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and ensure afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorism. secretary blinken also conveyed his deep appreciation for allied sacrifices and commitment over to do updates -- over two decades and our enduring commitment to the alliance. one additional element before i get to your questions. today, in concert with the u.k., the u.s. it is imposing additional cost on the russian federation. on the one year anniversary of the poisoning of alexi navalny. together with our allies we condemned the august 2020 attempts on his life and subsequent actions intended to stop his efforts to hold the russian government accountable, including his imprisonment in january of this year.
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it is clear that russian officials targeted him for his activism and is ours to reveal uncomfortable truths about russian corruption and the effort to give voice to russian citizens legitimate grievances with their government and its policies. our actions today, which were exercised by the department of state, treasury, justice, and commerce, send a clear signal that there will be no impunity for the use of chemical weapons, including for the individuals and organizations involved in this case. any use of chemical is unacceptable, it contravenes international norms. the u.s. calls upon russia to comply with its obligation under the chemical weapons commission. we reiterate our call for the russian government to immediately and unconditionally release mr. navalny. the department also submitted a report to congress today pursuant to protecting europe's
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energy security after 2019 to continue to address nord stream 2. as a result, to russian embassies will be sanctioned and listed as block property. as we said, the administration continues to oppose nord stream 2 as a bad deal for ukraine and europe and a harmful russian geopolitical project. we remain committed to implementing, even as we take risks to the security and frontline nato and eu countries. with today's action, the administration has now sanctioned seven persons and identified 16 of their vessels as block property in connection with this nord stream 2 project. the demonstration continues to work with germany, with ukraine, and other allies and partners to implement the july 21 joint statement we greet you with
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germany on support for ukraine, energy security, and climate goals. today's action send a clear signal to russia, that the u.s. is united in our commitment to oppose costs on russia for its aggression and malign activities and support more secure and sustainable energy futures for ukraine and our partners in europe. with that, i do not know where to begin, since we are missing our front row, but please. reporter: in a speech today the president said the u.s. was making the same commitment to afghans -- you mentioned applicants, people who worked at ngo's, other vulnerable afghans, as he mentioned u.s. citizens. give a general estimate of how many people will be included in that universe of potential aft -- potential evacuees. spokesperson price: let me take this in turn. as you know, we have a
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commitment to the american citizens, who are in afghanistan. we have spoken of our enduring commitment to those afghans who have worked with us, and that includes our locally employed staff. that is to say, those who worked with us as -- us at our embassy in kabul. as well as the many brave afghans who partnered with the u.s. government over the course of some 20 years. in many instances putting themselves or their families at risk. the so-called siv program is a program this admission has prioritized from day one and we have made very clear that we are committed to doing all we can for these brave afghans and their families. when it comes to american citizens, when it comes to our locally employed staff, and when it comes to a certain segment of the siv population, that is to
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say, those siv applicants who have completed stages of their security vetting process, we have reached out to them and we have instructed them to consider traveling to the airport. each one of these universes -- numbers are, precise numbers can be difficult to can -- to discern. we know in the siv population that there are a number of afghans who have completed what is called the chief of mission stage and have completed part or all of the security vetting stage. those are the siv applicants we have reached out to. when it comes to, and of course their dependents. so you know siv applicants are eligible to bring spouses and minor children, as well. which, of course, adds to the
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tallies. there have been a lot of questions about figures when it comes to u.s. citizens. it is worth offering a bit of context there. i think, as you know, nick, whether the country is france or afghanistan, the state department does not track the movement of american citizens. reporter: i'm not asking about american citizens. i'm asking about the broader universe of afghans who would potentially come out. the president said in an interview with abc a couple days ago -- he put the number at no more than 65,000 people. there was a statement today from what -- from an advocacy group it said the u.s. should consider airlifting out about 200,000 people. there are some estimates there may be as many as five under thousand people who need to come out. we know the president has a number in his head of 65,000 people for that broad universe not talking about american citizens. does the state department have a number when it looks at the
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overall capacity that it can get out, but how many people may want to come out? spokesperson price: again, the overall number will defend -- will depend on a few factors. it will depend on the number of people who wish to be relocated during that is includes -- and that includes in all of those categories read we've made contact with many individuals. we have indicated that if they wish to relocate, we are offering to facilitate that for them. and in some cases, they should consider making their way to the airport compound. the broad point here is we have dramatically increased capacity. over recent days. and this, of course, is capacity that is on top of operation allies refuge, which we launched in the middle of last month, to begin the airlift operation for a segment of the siv population.
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when it comes down to is the fact that we are going to do as much as we can for as long as we can for as many people as we can. reporter: just to hammer this out, the president has -- someone gave him the number of 65,000 people. clearly when you go about planning this evacuation process, you have this deadline of august 31, you have the capacity may be in the range of hundred thousand people, whatever it may be. what is the state department inking in terms of how many people overall are going to actually come out? spokesperson price: those are conversations ongoing right now. we have reached out to all of these populations. to american citizens, to afghans who may be at risk, to third country nationals, partners who have worked with us on the ground. two in many cases make the offer of relocation. but before we can relocate someone we need to ascertain that that person in fact wants
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to be relocated. when it comes to the american citizens, this task force i talked about, what they are doing, and these are not individuals based in kabul, they are based around the world, they are going to the registrations, the registrations that american citizens based in kabul have submitted using the contact information they have provided. at first it started with emails. now we have moved on to personal commute occasion and correspondence. we are reaching out with phone calls and contacting them, asking about their situation, where they are, who they may be with, and whether they would like to seek relocation to the u.s. reporter: you guys are in a situation now where you have this deadline and you have a promise from the president. i just do not see how those two things can be squared if you have this promise from the president to help this massive group of people but you have essentially no and 11 day
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deadline -- essentially now an 11 day deadline. how are you going to do it? spokesperson price: we have a tremendous airlift capacity. the capacity has increased by the day. right now we are able, and you heard the numbers today. 5700 people -- 13,000 people since august 14, 18,000 people since the end of last month. of course, there are several different ingredients. the most important ingredient is the people. and having the people present in alerting the right categories of people at the right time. that is something the department of state has been doing for several days now. the airlift capacity is another element of this. dod has spoken to their ability to increase that capacity. over the past several days. but then the transit sites.
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as you know, many of these individuals we have been able to relocate have been going to doha, qatar, as of late. but we are gratified that we have a number of countries, many of which i have just mentioned, that have offered to host whether it is third country nationals, they have been very generous and offered to host at risk afghans. i can confirm that we have begun to transfer people from doha. the first flights have arrived at ron stein airbase. -- ramstein airbase. which will allow us to make sure we are able to maximize that flow.
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what we want to do, the metric we care about is how many people we are able to relocate, to bring to safety, whether that is americans were repatriating to the united states, whether it is third country nationals whose relocation we are facilitating, or at risk afghans. in many cases, sib applicants will be brought to the united states. in some cases, we've heard generous offers of support from allies around the world, who will be willing to host at risk afghans as they undergo that processing. >> [indiscernible] price: we will have a statement from the secretary. he will be able to add offer some additional detail on this.
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many of these individuals have been going to doha today. the first flights have arrived at ron stein airbase. --ramstein airbase. flights from bahrain. there are a vast number countries that have offered to host at risk afghans, american citizens or third country nationals. >> as of today, there's only one country that has definitively -- what does that say about your process. price: that is not accurate. there's one country were at risk afghans have been going. we have been at this for some time now. to do the security situation in kabul, to deteriorate, among those we've evacuated in the
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past week or so, have included members of our embassy team, american rectifier employees. at risk -- >> at risk afghans are the majority of people we are talking about here. if there's only one country that has agreed to accept those afghans, why is that the case? price: we have spoken to their tremendous capacity in the united states to host siv applicants at the -- military bases. i colleague at the pentagon was just speaking to this. it is not the case that there is only one location for at risk afghans. as the operations of started -- >> >> we are the only country accepting at risk afghans of the moment, is that correct? price: we have relocated to the united states, 2000 siv applicants. doha has generously agreed to
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host these at risk afghans as they undergo their processing, and continue on to their final destination. in many cases, that is going to be the united states. if they are sib applicants. -- siv applicants. qatar is not expected to be the final destination. flexible rate started to leave qatar, we are going to have additional capacity coming online soon, in addition to the military bases here, as you heard from the pentagon can host thousands of at risk afghans. >> can you bring us up to speed on what happened today with regards to the flights.
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one of the general said there were thousands of afghans were delayed for six hours today when they were alerted that doha had been shut down. is the site and doha -- has it reopened? are all of those flights now headed to ramstein now. price: the status of know-how has not changed, we just thought it -- the status of doha has not changed. we just thought it prudent to send them some worlds. you will need to talk to my pentagon colleagues about this. there was a brief operational pause. that pauses now ended. we have now been able to transfer individuals from doha to other locations, including ramstein airbase.
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this is not a purely military relocation effort. they have charter options, commercial options. that will continue to allow us to relocate individuals with some alacrity from doha, more so now that we have additional sites coming online, i have already come online and will come online in coming hours. >> people who responded to ramstein today came from doha, not from kabul? flights from doha to ram sign -- ramstein? wide not straight from kabul to ramstein. price: my understanding is it's about fuel efficiency. >> [indiscernible]
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these countries americans and others will transit through, are they transferred from kabul or from doha? price: in most cases, they will transfer it through a country like cutter bahrain, a -- qatar or bahrain come for efficiency of fuel. from those locations, if they are american citizens, there will be charter options, commercial options, some of you may have seen some state department charters have already arrived in the united states over the past hours. that will continue. >> the president said it was because they didn't have enough people to process the arriving evacuees. do you have enough to process those were coming in? price: this is a complex operation, the likes of which is often attempted.
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it involves the department of homeland security, department state, department of defense. it is a matter of transporting people from kabul to doha, a matter of having facilities like the one in doha, like the one in rammstein, like the ones elsewhere. there's a dhs component to this. indo hot, there is immigration processing, biometric assisting taking place. there are a number of steps that individuals go through before they transit from doha. >> will people just get off of one plane and get on another. price: our goal is to make these intermediate stops come up like the one indo hot, as brief as possible. our goal is to have people reach their destination, whether that is the united states, another third country that has generously agreed to open its
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borders to those at risk, needing refuge. >> it is important to have these agreements, it is also important people of access to the airport. it continues to be the case that many afghans and many americans is have not been able to get through. are you denying -- is the administration denying that that is the case? price: i think anyone -- i don't think anyone is denying the reports out there. every report that we see, we are seeing some of the same reports you are. they are coming from some of your networks, the anecdotal reports. every single report of impeded access is something we take extraordinarily seriously. the stories we are hearing from some of these individuals are harrowing. what i can confirm for you is
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what we have heard firsthand. we often have the best data when it comes to the american people, who are in afghanistan. we have been in regular touch with u.s. citizens in afghanistan, during this evacuation effort and regularly before that, offering them guidance about the security risk of remaining in afghanistan. which has been profound for some time. as we have been in touch with american citizens, as we've directed them to consider making that transit to the airport compound, we have received only a small number of reports from american citizens that their access has been impeded in some way. they faced any sort of hardship or resistance getting to the airport. having said that, this is an issue that we take with the
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utmost importance. that is why, through the political and military channels, we are engaging with the taliban to do everything we can to facilitate safe passage for americans, third country nationals, but also for afghans who may be at risk. any of these harrowing stories are emanating from afghans who are finding resistance. individuals who may not have a blue passport. we are taking that very seriously. in all of our engagements -- >> what is their response to you , have the conversations been productive or constructive, have they made this commitment to you, and if so it is clearly not bearing out on the ground. what are you willing to do? price: the taliban have told us
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the same thing they said publicly. they have no intention of impeding our operations or standing in the way of those who are seeking passage to the airport. again -- >>'s third disconnect between the fighters in the leadership? price: i said this in several contexts. the only thing that matters to us are the actions. >> their actions have shown that they are not willing to give people passage. price: we can only speak to our firsthand accounts. most of those accounts come to us from the american people, u.s. citizens with whom we've been in contact on the ground. to whom we provided direct and specific instructions about when and how they might seek to reach the airport. we have not received a large number -- we've only received a small number, sporadic reports of individuals whose passage has been impeded.
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but that does not mean we are going to diminish in any way our efforts to impress upon the taliban the importance of this. the other point i would make, it is not just the united states saying this. more than 100 countries, 112 countries at last count have come together to make the point that there citizens, -- their citizens, their nation -- third nation nationals. we have been nothing but clear with the taliban. they know where we stand on this. they also note of this severe and significant consequences should they seek to disrupt our operations or threaten or put harm upon our people.
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i can tell you, relevant to the question, the special representative remains in doha, he has continued to be in contact with the taliban political office for leader -- political office leadership. we have the military channel as well. we have impress that upon them in both channels. for what it is worth, the taliban, relevant to the ability of people to leave the country going forward have assured us that they will allow afghans who wish to leave the country to do so after august 31. they professed to agree with us that a functioning, secure and operational airport is essential to the well-being of the afghan people, and the maintenance of
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the afghan economy. we agree with that. there is the possibility, one we are going to continue to push for in every way we can with our international partners, that even once the u.s. military is no longer running the airport compound, the civilian airport will be running, will be accessible to commercial flights, to charter flights, and importantly, a path that will remain after the u.s. military and diplomatic presence is gone, the taliban must live up to its word about allowing safe passage to those were seeking to go to the airport. >> the president says that americans want to leave, they just have to show their passport at checkpoints until by the taliban.
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so if the afghans -- does it make sense to you that the taliban would allow sab applicants to go to the airport? >> it is of profound importance to us. with her or not it make sense to the taliban, and they say that they get it. they say they will allow safe passage to anyone who wishes to reach the airport. these are the words of the taliban. we take them for what they are. we are going, together with our international partners, to do everything we can to see that they make good on their word and understand the consequences of not doing so.
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american citizens do have a blue passport. that gets back to the point we were discussing earlier, that when comes to those firsthand accounts, the number of reports referred directly from americans about an inability -- risk they faced in transit to the airport have been relatively small. you all have seen the reports of afghans who been harassed, who may not have been allowed safe passage. we are providing very specific, precise instructions to everyone we are in a position to relocate. that includes american citizens, are locally employed staff, third country nationals, afghans at risk. within that category, the special immigrant visa for theirs -- special immigrant visa
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holders and applicants. whether or not they have a blue passport, we are providing them with an official document. it is our expectation it will facilitate their -- international partners on the ground to get seriously for their nationals. we are seeing this with one voice to the taliban -- saying this with one voice to the taliban. there will be accountability, should the taliban -- >> price: part of this is where the international community will stand. as a large block, we are starting to see the international community signal very clearly that we are going
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to speak and act as a block when it comes to the taliban. over the course of the past week, there been any number of multilateral and international gatherings where this same message has run through. just this morning, the secretary took part in a meeting of the new foreign ministers on afghanistan. the foreign minister said, any future afghan government must adhere to afghanistan's international obligations, safeguard the human rights of the people and uphold the rule of law and allow a deterred axis. the same message came out of the g7 yesterday. the same message was supported by a hundred 12 countries earlier this week. -- 112 countries earlier this week. the same message from our eu partners and allies in the indo
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pacific and beyond. this is the same message i expect we will hear on monday when president biden meets with his g7 counterparts to discuss this. this is about whether any future government in afghanistan will accrue what we now, and almost certainly they now they need in order to run a country effectively. >> [indiscernible] hold off on sending covert related funding to afghanistan, they don't know who is in charge? is the international community similarly prepared for asset seizures, travel bans, it does appear that southend will be in charge, is that the ramification the taliban is running the risk of incurring? price: absolutely. we have made that very clear.
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we are undertaking our assistance, we are not going to provide assistance to any government, any force that does not owe pulled -- not uphold those basic norms, those basic obligations to their people, and within the international community. we have been clear about this. there are dozens of statements from our counterparts around the world. i could run through the list. i see some headshaking, so i won't. not another scent will go to a future government of afghanistan that does not uphold the basic rights. that doesn't protect all of its people, that includes women,
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girls, minorities. this is something that the united states is speaking clearly about. we are watching very closely. more importantly, we are doing that in conjunction with our allies and partners. you heard us say that in any number of multilateral contexts. we will continue to do that. >> what about putting [indiscernible] it on the -- [indiscernible] price: we have a number of tools at our disposal. the taliban right now is ruled at terrorist group. they are on the list. there is both estate stick and carrot, a potential inducement to induce the taliban to uphold those basic international norms. the basic rights of its people.
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the fto list, other sanctions, the united states has many tools , acting together with the international community come up with the u.n., we have a number of different tools. >> has the defense secretary told congressional leaders that america was beaten there. this is the first indication of what is yet to come by the taliban? price: every report, whether it is an american citizen, we are in direct contact with american citizens, we are taking seriously. the reports about afghan cap ash -- at risk afghans being impeded, we take that seriously. it is difficult to speak to reports that are anecdotal, that maybe on social media. there were sports we can speak to --
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>> telling congressional leaders. price: the reports we can speak to are the ones we've heard firsthand. we are in regular communication with american citizens on the ground. providing them guidance, instructions. we know the most about what american citizens are airing. i'm not in number position to talk about other reports. >> diplomat sent a message to the secretary in july. the secretary said he received that cable and read it in mid july. why was there no preparations for smoother transition? price: i will come to that. we do not agree with the premise. let me start the broader word about how we approach this, generally. we believe that constructive internal dissent is valuable.
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we believe it to be patriotic. we know it to be protected. we have full confidence that constructive internal dissent makes us more effective. that is why the secretary has pledged to read every communication they come in through the defense cable. not only does he read it, he contributes and approves every single reply goes back. more importantly, we are determined to incorporate the panels lawful and constructive ideas into our policy planning, that is always what we do. we are also committed to the integrity of the channel.
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we want our employees to know that this channel is protected. this is a channel where they can express their candid, unvarnished thoughts and analysis to the highest levels of this department without fear of retribution, without fear of reprisals. that is why we do not comment publicly on these messages, even when they may not be classified. that is the backdrop. when comes to the siv processing, the contingency planning, let me make a couple points. we had the opportunity to discuss this come up gone to extraordinary lengths to expand our capacity to process special immigrant visas over the course of this administration. when we took office, not a
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single siv interview had been conducted since march of 2020. this was due to covid protocols that were in place, but within two weeks of this administration taking office, those interviews had restarted. as of earlier this month, we were processing more than 800 visas per week. that is an increase of more than a full. we were at about 100 -- eight fold. we were at about 100 visas earlier this year. those were results of steps that the department took, the president biden took, he issued an eo that ordered the department to streamline the process, make improvements. which is what we did. it is also function of the
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support we've had from members of congress. this is a 14 step program that is defined in statute. we have to work in partnership with congress in terms of the problematic details, but also the budgetary implications. by earlier this month, we had been able to increase our processing eightfold. we did that in spite of a covid outbreak, in spite of a program that was in some state of disrepair when this administration came into office. there was an inspector general investigation into the siv program mid last year. chronic understaffing, lack of a single coordinating figure.
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interagency dynamic that included not only the department of state and homeland security, other departments and agencies that made the processing less than streamlined. on top of that, the increase in terms of visa processing, mid last month announced the launch of operation allies refuge. this was the effort to bring to this country siv applicants who had completed a certain stage of the security vetting process. the effort is still underway, though in a different form. i say that not to suggest that we have accomplished what we set out to do. far from it. there's a lot of unfinished business here. the most important elements of this project are ahead of us. right now, working together with
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the u.s. military, we are in the midst of an airlift operation, that is largely unprecedented. it is a reflection of the commitment we have to siv applicants come out that not only have we followed through on printing them the be set but that we are in the midst of an ambitious operation to bring them to the united states. every time we get a constructive idea, whether it is at the table in a policy meeting come up with their it is from our counterparts at a different agency or agency or the dissent channel. we incorporate that into our
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planning. it is fair to say last month there is quite an in-depth contingency planning. contingency planning is something we started for afghanistan early in this administration, knowing that we faced a series of important dates with may 1, the decision that would come before the and the retrograde operations i after that. so they contingency planning, the scenario planning was already very much underway. every single good and constructive idea was fed into that. it made us better. it made us more efficient. ultimately it has allowed us to serve our afghan partners even more effectively. reporter: my colleague has interviewed multiple green hard coulters -- green card holders in ohio who have not been allowed to leave. some of been there for several days, which does not make sense, because of their valid visas they should get on a flight and
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get out. is this an aberration in a system that is overwhelmed or is this something that you can look into to unfurl this process? spokesperson price: as i said, our goal is to see to it that individuals are intrinsic countries -- in transit countries for us short a. as possible. it certainly is our intent to have and to see up. we will be able to do that for a number of reasons. first and foremost, because we have this additional capacity coming on board, in order to see a steady flow through places like doha, we have already brought other sites online. i've confirmed flights of landed at ram stein. you herby list a litany of countries that have agreed to host in some form or fashion american citizens, third country nationals.
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reporter: is is a process that is just completely overwhelmed? spokesperson price: it is difficult for me to speak to anecdotal reports, even if i could, we typically do not do that from the podium out of privacy concerns and other considerations but other reports like this is one we will look into. broadly speaking, we expect the flow-through transit points like doha will move at a faster clip in the coming hours and days given the capacity coming online. reporter: this was an afghani works the u.s. embassy into stock outside. what should he do to get in? can he get a piece of paper which bullet impasse? when you say the taliban have assured you that they will let him pass, that is not happening. someone like him, the only thing he has is assurances from the taliban. the u.s. will not do anymore. how long are you prepared to wait before you deliver on the
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threats of punishment that you mentioned earlier? or would it be too late for these guys who were stuck outside? the taliban know who they are. they say they work for the u.s.. are you going to wait weeks? by then they could be killed along with their families. spokesperson price: it is very difficult for me to speak to specific cases. what i will say is a member of our locally employed staff, we have been in touch with them. an individual in a position like that will have contact information, will have been in touch with officials on the ground, with this buildings popular core. that back-and-forth is something we have dedicated profound resources to. someone to place in the ground. our teams are being to those on
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the ground, asking them about plans intention, asking for them through there with. there are hundreds of people in this building and around the world who are doing just that. to your second question, we recognize with the time is of the absence. we recognize that in order for us to help the largest number of people, that our operations need to be efficient and effective. i think you are seeing that. you have heard from the pentagon, you've heard from the white house about the number of people who have cycled through,
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h kia over the course of the past couple days. again, we will have additional capacity for relocation sites coming online in the coming hours and days. we expect that will further improve the efficiency of this process. what we do know is that the most important and precious resource we have now is in many ways time. and that is why people in this building and around the world are working around the clock to be of assistance to as many people as we can for as long as we can. reporter: you mentioned that the task force focuses just on americans. is that the new task force or is that part of the larger state department task force? spokesperson price: this is a task force dedicated just to this mission.
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it is dedicated solely and exclusively to contact with american citizens who have indicated a desire to be repatriated to the u.s. as you know, american citizens are encouraged to register with the embassy when they arrive in a foreign country. we have used that registration system to be in touch with that entire community and some people who are not in a country like afghanistan actually use that registration system to get updates from the embassy in kabul. even the number of people who are registered for a system like that, it is not rude precisely reflective of the number of people on the ground. on top of that you have americans who come and go. it was certainly our encouragement and over the past several weeks warnings to private american citizens that they should leave afghanistan, given the deteriorating security situation. we have urged them to do so, since for months now, for weeks
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now, we have warned them to do so. this task force is following up on the primarily emails communications that we have been in with these american citizens. it is to find out precisely where these individuals are, if they would like to be repatriated. do they have any family members with them? how might they be able to relocate to kabul or hif they are not in the kabul area? this is a very tailored approach to provide as much assistance as we can to every single american because again, that is our priority, to offer repatriation services to every single american who wishes to come back here. reporter: is this just a state department task force or is this interagency? spokesperson price: it is a
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department of state effort. reporter: once you have the information are you sharing it with the u.s. military and is the u.s. military now going out and getting any of those people to bring them to the airport? there are reports of u.s. helicopters now leaving the airport in kabul to go get some americans and afghans. spokesperson price: i will let my colleagues at the pentagon discuss what they're doing now. the precedent -- president referenced an effort to bring a number of americans across the perimeter but when it comes to what we may be in a position to do, to assist americans, we will do everything that we can do to assist americans. what we are talking about now, this task force that is actually -- we are calling these american citizens, but we were also going to be in a position to text them, to email them, every conceivable form of communication. this is indicative of that. we are not ruling anything out.
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right now, we are focused on ascertaining where these americans are, the condition therein, how many people they may be traveling with, and what their desired plans are. reporter: and are you sharing the information at all at an interagency level? spokesperson price: if it will prove useful to our interagency partners and it is appropriate to do so, we will, but right now we are trying to ascertain the universe of americans who may be interested in relocation and the ways we might be able to assist them. i will take a final question. reporter: there's been an increasing number of reports of the taliban targeting the press. is the u.s. in conversations with the taliban asking them not to interfere with journalists and to allow them to work freely? as i have a quick clarifying question again. are there any cases where flights are going from kabul to any of the transit countries
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directly? spokesperson price: in almost all cases -- i do not want to be categorical here because we do not want to rule anything out. and all most all cases these flights are going to the nearby transit countries. again, as a way to maximize the flow, as a way to reduce the burden on the fuel supply. when it comes to the members of the press, and i will address us on a couple of levels. i know all of my colleagues in this building, we have been in touch with many of you, with your org -- with your news organizations. in some case with your afghan affiliates on the ground. we actually do have elements in this building focused squarely and exclusively on efforts to relocate members of the media, because we do recognize that there is a rather large --
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smaller now than it was several days ago, but there still a rather large contingent of media representatives on the ground in kabul. we have been gratified that a number of journalists have been able to safely relocate from afghanistan. we saw the statement that the new york times put out i believe it was yesterday, we have been in regular touch with -- here with the ground on kabul, with news organizations and individuals who fall into those categories in order to offer every bit of assistance. you asked a slightly different question. the questioning us was reports of taliban harassment of the press. this is something that we do take extraordinarily seriously. we take it extraordinarily seriously on a couple levels. one, it is the basic matter of freedom of the press. the press, whether it is in kabul or washington dc or any other country or city around the
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world, should be able to report without intimidation, without harassment, without threats, and every single report that contravenes that is a matter of great concern. we are also taking note of -- and we have seen this from some of your colleagues. the reports that members of the press have been impeded in their passage and safe passage, what should be there guaranteed safe passage through the city. into the kabul international airport. that is something those reports that we take seriously. we will continue to do this. reporter: the state department announced that the north korean envoys visiting seoul tomorrow visiting south korean officials.
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do you have any plans to contact north korea directly during the visit? spokesperson price: we did confirm earlier today that special representative kim will travel to the r.o.k. from august 21 through the 24th. during his visit he will meet with his counterpart, special representative for korean peninsula peace and security affairs and other senior south korean officials. they will in the context of those discussions discuss the situation on the korean peninsula and continued to plot coordinated ways forward. as you know, we have emphasized the role of our allies when it comes to our collective efforts to advance our shared goal, and that is the d plural is a of the korean peninsula. his wife secretary blinken went to -- that is why sec. blinken went to japan and south korea as his first overseas trip.
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it is why the heads of state of both south korea and japan have both visited the white house. we know and have determined through the course of our north korea policy review that one of perhaps the most effective approach will be an approach that relies on coordination and acting in concert with our allies and partners and certainly the r.o.k.'s one of those very important allies. reporter: there is this report now from a norwegian security firm provided to the u.s. and other governments. i'm wondering if you could speak to whether or not the administration sees it as credible. there also a report from ended -- from amnesty international today about people being targeted and killed. you've spoken repeatedly about the administration watching what
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the taliban is doing. you now have evidence they are committing atrocities. to jessica's question earlier, the tools you're talking about using our long-term. we are talking about things that could happen in a matter of days and hours. what are you willing to do right now to address these atrocities? spokesperson price: on your question about the ngo report, i question this -- i understand this was an ngo report that was provided to the u.n.. we have been in touch with the u.n. about this report. we have received a copy of the report. we are going to take a very close look at it. but i am just not in a position to offer any initial conclusions just yet. when it comes to these reports from last month -- last month and this month and the month before that, we have been very
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clear and outspoken in no uncertain terms, condemning reports of taliban atrocities. we will continue to condemn any reported atrocities. precisely because they are violations of the public commitment by taliban leaders to seek reconciliation for all afghans. this is what the taliban have said they want. again, their actions often do not match their words. what matters to us is the former. we will be watching with the international community, their actions. if we determine that the taliban have continued to commit atrocities, that they are not living up to their responsibility, to protect and uphold the rights of all their citizens, including women, girls, and minorities, we will
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work with our allies and partners to hold the perpetrators accountable. you ask about the temp oral element of this, short-term versus long-term. we are making very clear to the taliban that -- especially when it comes to our priority right now, that is to say the operation ongoing at hkia, our operations together with our international partners, we have made it very clear to the taliban that any effort to impede that operation and certainly any effort to threaten or seek to inflict harm on any american would be met with swift and pretty decisive response. we have made that very clear to them. when it comes to any future government in afghanistan. look, there are discussions that
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continue to be ongoing. between the afghan parties. the taliban and representatives of the islamic republic. together with our allies, with our partners, we have encouraged them to pursue a political settlement, that first and foremost protects and upholds the rights of all afghan citizens. this is something that we have been outspoken about. again, importantly, it has been something we have spoken about with a single voice, together with our closest allies and partners, and together with a universe of countries around the world. that when we act in concert, it is more than about the ephemeral issues of recognition or legitimacy. it is about questions that may well be existential to any regime, the ability to govern, the ability to run a country effectively, the ability to have
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a functioning economy. the ability to travel. the ability to access funds. these things matter. these things will matter to any government around the world. they will certainly matter to any future government in afghanistan. that will be more reliant than almost any other country in the world for international assistance. thank you all very much. announcer: c-span's washington journal. every day we are taking your calls live on the air, on the news of the day. we will discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up saturday morning, we look unemployment in the u.s. and then a look at the history of the war in afghanistan, at the country's future, with an
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author and former state department political officer. watch c-span's washington journal, live at seven eastern saturday morning. be sure to join the discussion with our phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. announcer: the houses back on monday and will begin work on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution which passed in the senate earlier this month. members are also expected to take up a bill to restore provisions of the 1965 voting rights act. watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. house of representatives returning monday at 5 p.m. eastern, live on c-span. announcer: president biden gave an update on the situation in afghanistan, announcing that approximately 18,000 people had been evacuated from the country since july. from the white house, this is 30 minutes.


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