Posted: Sep 08, 2021 12:01 AM
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On Sept. 7, Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a news conference in Qatar declared he was “unaware” of any “hostage-like situation” in aircraft waiting to take off from Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport.
Blinken was responding to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. On Sept. 5, McCaul told Fox News Sunday that six planes at Mazar-i-Sharif transporting American citizens and Afghan interpreters had been denied departure. The State Department “has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” he said. He added: “We know the reason why (they are held) is because the Taliban want something in exchange.” McCaul speculated the Taliban wanted U.S. diplomatic recognition.
McCaul is the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking Republican.
Mazar-i-Sharif is 190 miles northwest of Kabul. Several private organizations have tried to arrange chartered flights from Mazar-i-Sharif with the aim of evacuating stranded Americans and Afghan nationals who possess or deserve a U.S. Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV.
McCaul described a hostage situation quid pro quo. In