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    Blinken said U.S. expects Taliban won’t seal off country after Aug. 31

    Blinken was addressing the question of whether there was any hope that any remaining Americans and some allies of the United States still within Afghanistan — particularly those who helped the U.S. during the 20 years American forces have been in the country — would have a chance to leave the country if they can’t get to the airport in Kabul by Aug. 31, when the ongoing international evacuation is supposed to end.

    “We’ve been very actively planning,” Blinken said, “for what would be necessary to keep the airport functioning, either to have it function right — immediately after the 31st or if necessary to take the steps required to reopen in a timely fashion, working with countries in the region who are very interested in helping.

    “The Taliban have a strong interest in having an airport that functions, the Afghan people have a strong interest in an airport that functions, the entire international community has that interest.”

    Blinken said the loss of 13 Americans killed Thursday during an attack at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport would continue to be deeply felt.

    “We couldn’t do our jobs as diplomats in any place around the world without the Marines and, of course, we certainly could not have done the job that’s been done in Kabul without these extraordinary men and women, including the 13 who gave their lives a couple of days ago. So I just wanted to share with you and others how deeply we feel this, especially at the State Department,” he said.

    In an interview that immediately followed Blinken’s, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) repeatedly denounced Blinken, President Joe Biden and the administration for relying on “happy talk.”

    “It was a disgusting revelation of yet again no plan,” Sasse said of Blinken’s interview.

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