Pentagon spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Tuesday that Americans were "stranded" in Afghanistan, despite the earlier stance by White House press secretary Jen Psaki that use of the term to describe those unable to escape the Taliban-controlled country was "irresponsible."
In an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Kirby admitted to not knowing the exact number of Americans still in Afghanistan, but that efforts to extract them from the war-torn country would be through diplomatic and economic means, not with the military.
"Right now I think the tools we have available to us and that we're going to use as a U.S. government is going to be more in the diplomatic, economic lanes, and we don’t really see a military role right now," Kirby told host Willie Geist after he asked if the military would have a role in rescuing those Americans.
Geist inquired as to how diplomacy was going to get those Americans out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
"It’s not completely unlike the way we do it elsewhere around the world. We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time and we do everything we can to try to facilitate safe passage," Kirby said, contradicting Psaki.
"We have made it very clear what our expectations are to the Taliban, and if the Taliban want to govern, and they say they do … obviously we’re going to hold them to their deeds, not just those words," Kirby added. "And so there are leverage tools we have available to us to hold them to account. But that’s the effort. It’s going to be a whole of government effort, but I don’t see a military role at this time."
Psaki originally claimed during an exchange with Fox News' Peter Doocy at the White House press briefing on Aug. 23 that it was "irresponsible" to refer to Americans stuck in Afghanistan as "stranded."
"I think it's irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home," Psaki said.
The administration, however, on Tuesday appeared to have broken its promise to stay in Afghanistan until every American was evacuated, as the final flight and the last of its military personnel left the country.