Despite the Taliban's long history of oppression of women and iron-fisted rule, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price Monday urged Afghanistan's new leaders to form an inclusive government that had women in it.
Price cited a United Nations declaration calling for "an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative – including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women."
Price said that the U.S. government would recognize a potential new government of Afghanistan so long as that government "upholds rights, doesn't harbor terrorists, and protects the rights of women and girls." He did not say how the Taliban could convince the U.S. government that it has reformed itself in this way.
He argued that even though the U.S. military would withdraw from Afghanistan, American forces achieved the goal of the operation: to "decimate the network that conceived of and launched" the September 11, 2001 attacks. He said that U.S. forces would still have "over the horizon" capabilities to fight terrorism after the War in Afghanistan ends.
Price claimed that it was clear "the government of Afghanistan would not have endured 20 years were it not for the broad and generous support of the United States and the world."
The State Department spokesman acknowledged the emotional resonance of the footage of Afghans rushing to get onto airplanes as they fly away from Kabul.
"They are searing, they are painful, they are difficult to see, they are difficult to watch," he said. "We share a common humanity with these Afghans whose desperation, whose fear, whose concern... they wear it on their faces."
He said the U.S. government is working to bring as many vulnerable Afghans to safety as it can.
While the Taliban has taken the presidential palace in Kabul, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country, Price insisted that "there has not been a formal transfer of power."
"The situation will continue to remain fluid in the coming hours and likely the coming days. Nevertheless we are operating on all fronts and around the clock to protect our people, those who have worked side by side with the United States for years, and other vulnerable Afghans," Price declared.
He said the safety and security of American diplomats "will remain our top priority."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with diplomats from Russia, China, Pakistan, Britain, NATO, Turkey, and the European Union, Price added.
The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday, storming the U.S. embassy, pouring into the presidential palace, and freeing thousands of terrorists who had been prisoners at Bagram Air Base. Meanwhile, Biden avoided the cameras, waiting until Monday to address the nation.