US to keep embassy in Kabul as long as it’s ‘welcome’
The United States will keep its embassy in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn unless Afghanistan’s next government tells U.S. officials to leave, the head of U.S. Central Command conceded Monday.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_According to Defense One News, U.S. and coalition forces and the international embassies supporting them are there at the invitation of the current Aghan government but that welcome may disappear if a new governing structure emerges that includes the Taliban.
“We won’t be there unless we’re, you know, we are invited to be there,” Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Monday.
Defense One reported that the 36-acre U.S. embassy compound in supported roughly 1,000 government civilians and 4,500 contractors in 2015 and that more than $1.5 billion has been spent to construct temporary housing and permanent hardened facilities there over the last ten years.
But McKenzie said the protection of staff who remain will fall primarily to the Afghan government.
“We do plan to have an embassy in Afghanistan. It will be at the invitation of the government of Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.
“It will be first and most important their responsibility to protect that embassy, although we will always take whatever measures are necessary to protect our diplomats in any embassy anywhere in the world.”