White House National Security Adviser Declines to Call Taliban an Enemy: ‘It’s Hard to Put a Label on It’

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White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan refused to brand the Taliban an enemy of the United States during an appearance on MSNBC on Aug.31.

Sullivan appeared on the show just days after the final withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, which has seen the Taliban take control of the capital after the leader of the U.S.-backed Afghan government fled the country.

When asked by reporters about U.S. relations with the Taliban following their takeover of Kabul and whether they were considered a “frenemy, adversary, or enemy,” Sullivan said he was unsure how to define the relationship with the terrorist group.

“Well, it’s hard to put a label on it, in part, because we have yet to see what they are going to be now that they are in control—physical control of Afghanistan,” Sullivan said.

“They will, in the coming days, announce a government. That government is going to go around seeking diplomatic engagement, even recognition from other countries, including the United States. In fact, the Taliban spokesman today said he was looking for positive relations on behalf of the Taliban, especially with the United States.”

Sullivan went on to add that while the Taliban were not “nice guys,” the administration hopes it can work alongside them to make the evacuation of remaining U.S. citizens and allies in the country run smoothly.

“We’re not just going to grant positive relations to the Taliban. They’re going to have to earn everything from the international community through actions, not words,” Sullivan said.

“That begins with safe passage for Americans and Afghan allies, and that also includes them living up to their counterterrorism commitments, including that Afghanistan can never again be used as a base with which to attack the United States or our allies.”

By Katabella Roberts

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