National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday's edition of State of the Union that the Biden administration believes it has "substantial leverage" to make sure the Taliban grants American citizens, legal permanent residents, and Afghan allies who have the proper travel documents safe passage to Hamid Karzai International Airport even after the Aug. 31 deadline passes.
"We will use that leverage to the maximum extent, and we will work with the rest of the international community to ensure the Taliban does not falter on these commitments," Sullivan said, though he didn't go into specifics.
Fox News' Chris Wallace pressed Sullivan about the apparent leverage, a point that was also made by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week. In response, Sullivan said "no one here trusts the Taliban," but if they don't allow the aforementioned groups to reach the airport, Washington "can bring to bear enormous pressure on the Taliban with a swift and forceful response ... that's not about trust, that's about the capabilities we have to hold the Taliban to the commitments they have made."
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On CBS News' Face the Nation, Sullivan also explained that after Aug. 31, the U.S. does not plan on having a permanent embassy presence in Afghanistan, but he said there will still be diplomats "on the ground" who will continue to process visa applications and facilitate safe passage for evacuees. And over time, Sullivan suggested, the administration could reassess its diplomatic presence depending on the Taliban's behavior.
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