Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 17, 2021
QUESTION: The Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. Is there any reason at all to take the Taliban at their word here?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Wolf, it’s great to be here. And what we will take the Taliban on are their actions. It is what they do – not what they say – and it is their actions that we will judge them on.
QUESTION: The UN Secretary-General is saying that they’re already getting – and I’m quoting him now – “chilling reports of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan. What specifically are you learning about those threats?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are hearing from people in Afghanistan that they are getting threats from the Taliban. And we have expressed, in no uncertain terms, here at the United Nations through a very strongly worded press statement from the Security Council, that we expect the Taliban to respect human rights, including the rights of women and girls. We have also indicated that they have to be respectful of humanitarian law, and that we do not expect to see that Afghanistan will become a safe haven for terrorists. But again, it is not their words that we will hold them to, it is their actions that we will be watching.
QUESTION: And so far, we have seen several very, very disturbing actions. So many Afghans, Ambassador, especially female journalists, judges, anyone who has worked with international organizations, they all say the same thing: they are terrified that they will be killed, killed by the Taliban. What more can the U.S. – the Biden Administration specifically – do now to try to save their lives?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we are working around the clock to get vulnerable Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan out of Afghanistan. We have secured the airport and we are getting planes out 24 hours a day. In the past three days we’ve moved more than 3,000 people, and we will continue to take people out who are vulnerable as quickly as we possibly can until we finish the job.
QUESTION: Ambassador, you say America’s commitment to Afghanistan’s women and girls doesn’t necessarily depend on a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, but how much harder will it be to fulfill that commitment now that the Taliban, the Taliban is in complete control of the country?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know Wolf, I won’t say that it will be easy. But I will say that we will use every tool that we have, our diplomatic tools, both here at the United Nations and through the State Department. We will use our development tools. We will work with human rights organizations, with the United Nations, to ensure that Afghan women’s rights are upheld. And we will ensure that the Taliban are held accountable when those rights – when they break those commitments.
QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, we’re grateful to you for joining us. Good luck. We’re counting on you. This is a horrendous potential situation that’s unfolding right now, and I know you and your colleagues will be very busy trying to do the best you can. Thank you so much for joining us.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you very much, Wolf.