Washington [US], August 3 (ANI): As the US is weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday (local time) announced a US refugee admissions program Priority 2 designation for Afghan nationals.
During a press briefing, Blinken said, "The State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States, but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. We've created a Priority-2 or P-2 designation, granting access to the US refugee admissions program for many of these Afghans and their family members."
Blinken said that even as the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the United States will remain deeply engaged with the country. "We'll continue to work toward an Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live in safety and security, and we will continue our support for Afghan institutions, and for the gains that the Afghan people have made over the past 20 years," he said.
"We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. And we'll keep working closely with countries in the region, which all have a stake in a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan," Blinken stated.
Blinken said Afghans who work with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country.
He further added that "We have a special report the responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them. Over the past 13 years, the State Department has issued more than 73,000 Special Immigrant Visas to eligible Afghans who have helped the United States, and also to their families."
"We'll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbors in gratitude for helping us, despite the danger. We won't forget it," he added.
Earlier on Friday, the first group of 200 Afghans who helped US soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan arrived in the US under Operation Allies Refuge.
Friday's arrival at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, brought Afghan translators and close family members, including scores of children and infants to start a new life in the United States. (ANI)