Blinken said the US is looking at “every option” to help the Afghan employees, including interpreters, drivers etc who may become victims of the Taliban…reports Asian Lite News
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pledged to speed up immigration visas for Afghans who worked closely with US forces, media reported.
During a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a Republican lawmaker warned that those Afghans will be targeted by the Taliban once the US completes troop drawdown from the war-torn country.
Blinken said the US is looking at “every option” to help the Afghan employees, including interpreters, drivers etc who may become victims of the Taliban as soon as US troops depart, it was reported.
Blinken said a backlog of immigration applications is being cleared, and he asked Congress to raise a cap on special immigrant visas for Afghans by 8,000 slots, it was reported.
There’s now a congressionally mandated cap of 26,000 slots under the Special Immigrant Visa program, which lets Afghans apply for visas if they can show their lives may be in danger for having worked for the US.
Meanwhile, Blinken also said that it remained unclear if Iran is willing to take steps to return to compliance with the 2015 landmark nuclear deal.
“We’ve been engaged in indirect conversations for the last couple of months, and it remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do to come back into compliance,” Blinken told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee .
“We’re not even at the stage of returning to compliance for compliance,” he said.
“We don’t know if that’s actually going to happen.”
Blinken made similar comments in an interview in late May, reports Xinhua news agency.
The US and Iran have held five rounds of indirect negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna since April 6 aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Blinken’s words were met with an immediate response from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
In a tweet, Zarif said that “it remains unclear whether @POTUS (President Joe Biden) and @SecBlinken are ready to bury the failed ‘maximum pressure’ policy of Trump and cease using economic terrorism as bargaining ‘leverage'”.
The US government under former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
In response, Iran gradually stopped implementing parts of its JCPOA commitments from May 2019.