‘Hundreds' of Americans likely remain in Afghanistan, says former top U.S. diplomat

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Hundreds of Americans are likely to still be left in Afghanistan, more than two months after U.S. forces left and the Taliban took over, a former top U.S. diplomat said on Sunday.

While more than 120,000 people were airlifted out during the chaotic August withdrawal of U.S. troops and diplomats, according to White House figures, those remaining include Afghan Americans who live there and have families there, Zalmay Khalilzad said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“It’s very likely that it’ll be in hundreds, but we don’t know. The truth of the matter is, we don’t know,” said Khalilzad, who worked on talks with the Taliban and resigned from his post last week.

Estimates of the number of Americans remaining in Afghanistan vary. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month placed the number in the 100-to-200 range, and CNN reported that nearly 200 Americans were trying to get out of the country as of last week

Khalilzad said in its two-decade presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. achieved its objectives on terrorism but failed to transform the country into a democracy.

‘Hundreds’ of Americans likely remain in Afghanistan, says former top U.S. diplomat
© Jose Luis Magana Hundreds of Americans could still be in Afghanistan, said Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, on Sunday. “Truth of the matter is, we don’t know,

Hundreds of Americans could still be in Afghanistan, said Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, on Sunday. “Truth of the matter is, we don’t know,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” (Jose Luis Magana/)

“On the issue of building a democratic Afghanistan … that did not succeed. The struggle goes on,” he said.

“It would have to be carried on by the Afghans themselves,” he said. The White House has made similar comments on the future of an Afghan democracy.

Khalilzad added that the Taliban already was winning on the ground when negotiations were underway on the U.S. exit.

“They were making progress on the battlefield even as we were negotiating with them,” he said. “And the reason we negotiated with them was because militarily things were not going as well as we would have liked. We were losing ground each year.

“Now we’re in a new phase, dealing with evacuation issues and humanitarian issues,” he added. “Given the new phase, it was time to move on.”

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