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First Move with Julia Chatterley

Terror Threats Hamper Evacuation Efforts in Kabul; European Nations Ending Evacuation Efforts; Biden and Bennett Seek to Reset U.S.-Israeli Relations. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Live from London, I'm Max Foster in for Julia Chatterley. Welcome to FIRST MOVE.

We begin with the latest from Afghanistan for you.

ISIS terror threats hampering evacuation efforts with time fast running out before a final exit.

U.S. diplomats in Kabul warning American citizens to immediately leave the airport gates. Other Western nations also warning of a terrorist attack on

the airport. And CNN has just learned that Canada is the latest country to say it has completely -- has completed evacuation of its citizens and

Afghan allies.

Sam Kiley has the very latest for you.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The freedom clock for evacuees from Kabul is ticking ever faster. The U.S. and

its allies loading planes with evacuees from Kabul at a frantic pace, one taking off every 39 minutes as of Tuesday.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We know there are a lot of desperate people who want to leave, and that's why we are working

as fast as we can.

KILEY (voice over): Still, the State Department says, as many as 1,500 Americans may still remain in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration pledging to make sure that U.S. citizens who want to leave aren't left behind.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me be crystal clear about this, there is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American

citizens who decide they want to leave to do so, along with the many Afghans who have stood by us over these many years.

KILEY (voice over): But getting to the airport is an increasingly dangerous feat. The Taliban blocking access for Afghans hoping to board a

plane to escape.

KILEY (on camera): We've also had a number of reports of Afghans stuck in pockets around the town, desperately sending out signals to Americans to

try to get them out particularly people who've been working with the United States. We've heard from one group whose identity we're keeping secret that

really fear that they will not survive the coming days, if they can't get to this airport.

KILEY (voice over): Crowds still packing outside the facility's walls waiting and waiting in sewage. Some people showing documents trying to get


Active plots from ISIS-K to attack crowds at the airport has caused the coalition government to tell their citizens to stay away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not travel to Hamad Karzai International Airport, and if you're in the area of the airport, move to a safe location and await

further advice.

KILEY (voice over): This ISIS threat is making evacuation even harder.

BLINKEN: We're taking every precaution, but this is very high risk.

KILEY (voice over): But some are making it through and making it out like Mohammed Yousafzai, a U.S. citizen. He is leaving with his family of six.

MOHAMMED YOUSAFZAI, U.S. CITIZEN WHO HAS LEFT AFGHANISTAN: Nobody wants to leave their home easily, but there are a lot of challenges around, threats


KILEY (voice over): Hours later, landing in Doha, the first step to safety on a long and hard journey as refugees from terror.


FOSTER: The White House says more than 13,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours. So, big numbers, but a source telling

CNN, the focus is now on Afghan staff who worked for the U.S. Embassy.

John Harwood joins us now with the very latest.

Obviously, this is moving hour by hour. A Pentagon briefing coming up. What are you expecting to hear from Washington this morning on the operation?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, expecting to hear them reiterate those numbers and talk about what the remaining possibility is

when they begin actually drawing more troops out, some of that troop withdrawal started yesterday.

And of course, the troops are going to need to degrade some of the military equipment left behind, take out some military equipment.

This has been an extraordinary airlift, but as that piece from Sam indicated, it is winding down as we get toward the finish line and it's

really a competition between dual phenomena. One is very many deserving people trying to get out, a dwindling number of American citizens

yesterday, Secretary of State Blinken said it was around 500 that they had identified and some number beyond that.

It was unclear whether those Americans, about a thousand of them actually want to leave or not, a couple hundred of those left overnight. So we don't

know how many hundreds are still trying to get out.

But then you've got green card holders, the Afghan Embassy staff, and it's a matter of how many people can they squeeze through that narrowing window

in the next couple of days. The 31st is the deadline.

Realistically, you're going to see the number of evacuees truncate before that because the troops are going to have to pack up and leave. And that's

in competition, of course with this terror threat, which is increasingly specific and worrisome to Americans. They've had no American casualties, so

far. No mass casualty events of any kind at the airport, and they're trying to keep it that way before August 31st and that deadline comes.


FOSTER: Any sense of a backup plan for Americans who don't get out in time or green card holders who don't get out in time before the troops leave?

What would be the plan for them? As we're hearing, there is no deadline for them we are told.

HARWOOD: Well, right. And there are a couple of things about that, Max. One is that we have been told that there have been some operations outside

the airport by American forces using helicopters to bring people in. You can be sure that to the extent that that is practicable, those are going to

continue and there may be extraction operations that we're not aware of, covert extraction operations.

So, there are some things going on right now. The Biden administration has indicated that they would make that deadline flexible if they were aware of

Americans who had not gotten out. So it's possible that you will see some operations beyond August 31st. And then, of course, the ultimate backup

plan is once Americans are gone, they're going to try to negotiate and use diplomatic and economic pressure on the Taliban to get them to cooperate on

eliminating others.

That is a very sketchy thing to rely on, because the Taliban is not to be trusted from the standpoint of Americans, but that will be the backup once

American troops actually physically leave in total.

FOSTER: Okay, John, thank you.

As the clock ticks down to that August 31st deadline, the U.S. has promised to keep the evacuation process going as long as possible, as we've been

hearing. Nick Paton Walsh joins me from Doha in Qatar.

Nick, what are you hearing about the latest situation for Americans and green card holders, for example, on the ground trying to get out?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, there have been varying numbers over the past 24 hours, U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken saying there were 500 Americans as of yesterday afternoon that they were aware of who they needed to get to the airport for a safe

evacuation, and a thousand who they were less certain of.

But I understand from a source familiar to the situation that since those comments, the number has reduced of those they are certain they need to get

out. As of 8:00 a.m. this morning, it was 150, and they had managed, in fact to get off the airport 200 since midnight.

So, certainly the pace of getting Americans out is fast and that may be impacting, but that 500 total is still current. I suspect it almost

certainly is not, and there may even be some of those thousand who are uncertain American citizens who may also are being picked up of late.

So that's moving very quickly. What is obviously problematic is gate access and the ability of people get on to the airport at this stage. Key gates

have been closed. And that is of course making it very hard for SIV applicants who firstly have to get through Taliban checkpoints and other

places as well to even contemplate finally getting onto the base.

I understand that those who do get on are in fact using specific Taliban escorts coordinated with U.S. forces there to allow themselves on. So, that

is informing I think the number. There are people that are available for the United States to take off the base.

In these extraordinary frequent airlifts we've been seeing numbering in their tens of thousands, so it's a very fluid situation. One I understand

that, in terms of the bulk processing of evacuees will end in the next 36 hours, if not less.

It doesn't mean to say that if there is an American passport holder who turns up over the weekend that they won't be allowed off the base with the

Americans, but they are moving now from a situation where they are focusing on evacuation operation that's almost taken 100,000 people off in the last

sort of 10 days or so to a situation where it's more about withdrawing the troops in safety -- Max.

FOSTER: Is there anything we know about the sudden uptick in the threat as it is seen from ISIS? It's been there or the ISIS affiliate -- it's been

there throughout, hasn't it, but there was this sudden concern in the last 24 hours. What do we know about that?

PATON WALSH: Yes, U.S. officials have been reporting what they call a threat stream that is persistent about an ISIS potential to attack using

bombs to crowds outside of the airport. So, a very key threat there. And then we have heard of ISIS in the past doing large scale attacks on various

cities in various parts of Kabul, which have been exceptionally dramatic and ghastly.

I would have to say though, if you look at all the different problems the United States are facing right now, Taliban checkpoints blocking access to

the airport, Taliban specifically on the southern gate, Haqqani member networks, their affiliates, part of that security group, a deadline from

the Taliban on the 31st of August that all uniformed personnel must be out and that is nonnegotiable.

And the crush of Afghans on the exterior in simply crowds just to get near the gates, I think ISIS was awful if they carried this out, feeds into a

larger picture rather than necessarily being the most important thing to be concerned about.


PATON WALSH: I think that is simply getting people safely from Kabul to the base itself. So you know, it is a fluid picture, but one I think there

has an increasingly small window for the evacuation to carry on.

FOSTER: Nick Paton Walsh in Doha. Thank you.

European nations, including France, Belgium and Poland, are ending their evacuation efforts in Afghanistan. The Belgian Prime Minister said he made

the decision because of an imminent terror threat around Kabul Airport on Wednesday relating to that ISIS affiliate.

Anna Stewart has more on all of this, of course, the European nations having to take America's lead.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. And these evacuation efforts were of course, due to end in a few days, but they are coming to a very abrupt

stop amidst these terrible security concerns that you and Nick were just talking about.

The threat of ISIS-K, a branch of the terror group could target the airport in Kabul. So, so far, we know that Denmark and Belgium have already ended

their evacuation missions. That was yesterday. We expect France, Poland, and The Netherlands to have their last flights today.

And along with many other nations, the guidance that we're seeing from E.U. countries to their citizens, is this. This is from the Dutch Foreign

Ministry. "Are you still in Afghanistan? Due to the security situation, we advise you not to come to the airport in Kabul. Following the U.S. and the

U.K., we are calling on people to go to a safe location, more information will follow."

We've heard from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, he said the time for U.K. troops on the ground is now quite short. But he also had

this to say --


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There will be people who are still need help, but what we're hoping and this is the key point that the G7

agreed is that the Taliban understand that if they want to engage with, you know, development aid, if they want to unlock those billions of funds, they

want to have a diplomatic and political relationship with the outside world and a safe passage for those who want to come out is the key precondition.


STEWART: I think that's pretty interesting. Unlocking the billions of dollars of Afghanistan's reserves locked out of the country right now maybe

turning on the taps for development funds. That is what is really needed for the Taliban's next phase, which is of course, to govern and the

economic picture right now in Afghanistan is absolutely dire.

I also think that perhaps that comment from Boris Johnson and the idea that the international community will continue to try and find some sort of

evacuation route out of Afghanistan in the coming weeks, but of course with the agreement of the Taliban, but that might be some hope for those poor

people who have been desperately trying to leave the country and haven't been able to do so and the window for airlifts is closing fast -- Max.

FOSTER: Okay, Anna, we will be watching. Thank you.

Other stories making headlines around the world.

In the hours ahead, Israel's new Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with the U.S. President at the White House. Naftali Bennett and Joe Biden are

expected to talk about relations with the Palestinians and Iran, amongst other things. Officials say the meeting will be a chance for a fresh start

in U.S.-Israeli ties after tensions between previous leaders.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins us.

One thing that people will obviously notice is the optics of not having Benjamin Netanyahu there feels like a fresh start just by the visuals,


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the first time in 12 years, somebody who is not named Benjamin Netanyahu will be visiting the White

House as the new Israeli Prime Minister. This is the first time that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has met President Joe Biden and he is really

coming to this with sort of the mindset of a reset already in meetings yesterday with the Secretary of State, with the Secretary of Defense, with

the National Security Adviser.

He has talked about how he is coming to Washington with a new spirit of cooperation, the sort of bipartisan spirit as well and the understanding

being that Israel had become sort of a partisan issue in the United States in recent years, and they are really trying to reach across the aisle,

reset the relationship after Benjamin Netanyahu, reset the relationship after Donald Trump as well.

Now Israeli officials telling us that there are really two main objectives to this trip. The first is just setting the relationship, having the two

leaders meet one another and start and show the public that though there is a new government in Israel, a new President in the United States that the

relationship between Israel and the United States will still be strong, there will be a clear and constant line of communication.

But likely the most important objective for the Israelis during this trip is about Iran. Now, the Israelis have long been opposed to a return to the

2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to officials will be presenting to President Joe Biden what they are calling a

holistic strategy on Iran that they will not only address the Iranian Nuclear Program, but will also address what they call Iran's regional

aggression, their activities in places like Syria, Lebanon.

The incidents we saw recently at sea, the attack on the Mercer Street cargo ship, that both Israel and United States have attributed to Iran. The Prime

Minister essentially wants a regional NATO, you could call it, a coalition of partners -- the U.S., Israel, regional partners, such as those who have

signed on to the Abraham Accords, who will all work together to counter any sort of Iranian aggression.


GOLD: With regard to relations with the Palestinian. We do expect Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to tell the Americans that while they want to keep

things stable, they want to help the Palestinians economically to not expect any sort of change in the current reality, and that really reflects

the political situation for Naftali Bennett in Israel.

He leads a fragile and diverse government with parties from the left all the way to the right, and they have been very forthcoming about how they do

not expect to really make any sort of major changes when it comes to the relations with the Palestinians.

For the Israelis right now, the focus for sure is about Iran because they really feel as though time is just running out to contend with the Iranian

Nuclear Program -- Max.

FOSTER: Okay, Hadas Gold go in Washington. Thank you.

Japan has stopped the use of more than 1.6 million doses of Moderna's COVID vaccine because of possible contamination. The doses were sent to hundreds

of sites around the country and some were used. Japan and Moderna say the move is a precaution and that no safety or other issues have been


Now in South Korea, 20 people died Wednesday of COVID-19. Officials say that's the country's highest daily death toll since mid-January. South

Korea has been battling a fourth wave of the coronavirus this summer. About a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated.

The lockdown in Australia's state of New South Wales will be extended for at least two more weeks as COVID-19 spreads faster there. In the past 24

hours, New South Wales reported the most locally transmitted coronavirus cases for any Australian state since the start of the pandemic.

This is FIRST MOVE. Still ahead, shaking things up from A to Z. Nissan wins over the motoring world with this new model. We speak to the company's

chief operating officer.

And a boost for booster shots. Pfizer fishes an F.D.A. approval of a third COVID jab after its vaccine was officially approved this week.



FOSTER: Welcome back to the FIRST MOVE. Here's a check of the global markets for you. U.S. stocks are on track for a mostly lower open after

another record setting day for the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 yesterday. It was the 51st record high for the S&P this year.

The new market milestones come amid continued hope that the most recent COVID spikes won't do derail economic recoveries or weaken corporate


The U.S. is out with an updated look at how the American economy performed in the spring. The second quarter GDP rose by an annual rate of 6.6

percent. That's a bit stronger than the previous reading.

First time U.S. jobless claims meantime ticked a bit higher last week, but claims are still near their pandemic lows. In Europe, the major indices are

pulling back from recent record highs. Asian stocks finished lower with Chinese tech pulling back sharply.

South Korean shares dipped after that country's Central Bank hiked interest rates.

Now, the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell updates investors on the future of U.S. monetary policy tomorrow. We'll be watching that of course.

Now, if cars are your thing, take a look at this sporty little number. Nissan has wowed the world's motoring press with a new Model Z, the

Japanese giant is refreshing its range, planning to launch 10 new models within 20 months including the all-electric Arya SUV. It can go up to 300

miles on one charge and costs around $40,000.00. Nissan wants to offer electric options on all its models by the early part of the next decade.

Ashwani Gupta is Nissan's Chief Operating Officer. Thank you so much for joining us. So, good news on the models and the designs and the demand for

them, but you do have this problem, don't you, in terms of the supply of chips, which might be holding things up for you.

ASHWANI GUPTA, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, NISSAN: Thanks Max for having me today. Absolutely.

We are at the new face of Nissan with all the new products and the new technologies starting from Sentra Rogue, moving forward to Pathfinder

Frontier. And most important, our hundred percent electric Arya, which will be launched all over the world, and of course in United States.

Then about Z. Z is an iconic car, which we do only for the fans, Z fans and the sports car fans. However, the challenges which we are facing, because

of the supply chain, of course, are significant and we are aligning our production around the world.

However, when it comes to the new models, we know that the key pillar of transforming Nissan business are the new models, and that's why we are

prioritizing our new models and moving forward.

FOSTER: What's the research telling you, you got right with these particular vehicles? Because it can be a challenge, can't it, with electric

cars getting the fans on board as you describe them?

GUPTA: Yes, as we said, first, what we want to achieve is carbon neutrality by 2050. To do that, how we are proceeding by 2030s, we will

have hundred percent electrified models in our lineup, then what about the United States? The United States we pledged to have 40 percent of our sales

to be electrified by 2030.

Now, when we come segment by segment, and this is where we are listening to the customers and that's how we are moving forward with electrification

like we have Leaf, next we will have Arya and also we will have the KEV in Japan.

When it comes to the sports car and especially Z, which is iconic seventh generation. Of course, we listen to our customer, and they want three

things -- authenticity, athletic performance, and modernity and this is what we gave in the seventh generation Z, especially the athletic

performance, which is by twin turbo V-6, generating 400 horsepower.

This is what the customer wanted, and especially we gave the six manual transmission, which was also coming from the customers and that's how we

delivered this great car now.

FOSTER: Just take us through the challenges that the whole industry is facing with the chips. Just tell, you know, people who might not be aware

specifically what the issue is and what you're doing to address it.

GUPTA: That's a great question, Max. Thank you very much. How this problem started, we as automotive company have got a very structured supply chain,

we call it from first tier supplier to the tier and supplier. However, this world has gone through the regulations and the new technologies which means

the end part of the supply chain is no more dependent on the automotive business. They are much more dependent on the non-automotive business.

What happened during the COVID phase one is the automotive demand went down and obviously, we had to cut our supplies. But on the other side, we know

how much we started working digitally and the non-automotive demand in terms of gadgets went up and definitely the capacity allocation was given

to the non-automotive.


GUPTA: And post phase one of the COVID when the automotive demand came back, there was a capacity constraint. So, I would say this was the first

part of the challenge. However, everybody recognized it, and very collaboratively we started working with our tier one, but also tier end

suppliers to come out of it and we were seeing a good hope starting in July, that we are progressing in the right direction because the capacity

investment was done early -- late last year.

However, now we have the second challenge, which is again coming back, the impact of the COVID wave two and especially now with the Southeast Asia

lockdowns, it is impacting not only semiconductor, but also the other parts because of the lockdown.

And here, we don't have to talk about investment because here, the people's safety comes first and we have to just follow what is safe for people in

these plants.

FOSTER: Okay, Ashwani Gupta, from Nissan, thank you very much indeed for joining us and good luck with that supply issue. Hopefully things are going

to be getting back to normal now.

You are watching FIRST MOVE. The markets open is next.



FOSTER: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE. U.S. stocks are up and running as you can see, and as expected, we've got a mixed start to the trading day after

a record close to the NASDAQ and the S&P on Wednesday.

A bit of investor caution perhaps before a closely watched speech by Fed Chair Jerome Powell on economic policy tomorrow. A lot of investors believe

Powell will remain patient and not announce any concrete steps to cut stimulus, but there is a growing sense amongst many Fed members that

tapering should begin soon.

Clare Sebastian joins me now. What's your reading on which way he's going to go?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, he can't act unilaterally without his committee and that's why it's so important to look

at what the other Fed members have been saying this morning.

It is widely expected that Powell will sort of stick to the script, a little bit that he won't issue any shocks to the market. But we've heard

this morning from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who said that he thinks that tapering should start soon, and they should actually finish

tapering by the end of the first quarter next year. I've not heard that kind of timeline before, and he said that at that point, the Fed should

take stock and should consider what's happening to inflation and consider what more they could do, presumably raising rates.

Esther George, the Kansas City Fed President has also said that she thinks given the level of inflation, the time might be now to start tapering. Of

course, the wrinkle in all of this is the delta variant, the spread of COVID that we're seeing in the United States, whether that could impact

economic growth.

At the moment, it doesn't seem to be, but this is something that Fed officials are watching very closely and I think interesting to look at what

South Korea did today as well, the first major Asian economy to raise rates in this sort of -- in the post COVID, we can't really call it that -- in

the pandemic period. They are doing that on the same day that the country recorded its highest level of COVID death since mid-January, as you had

previously noted.

I think that underscores the very delicate balancing act for central bankers around the world, the rise in inflation that we're seeing given the

supply shocks and the recovery in economies coupled with this new wave of the coronavirus, very, very crucial moment for them, in particular, given

the communication challenge that Jerome Powell will face tomorrow.

FOSTER: Okay. Clare, thank you.

And now with infection surging, a plan to offer booster shots is shaping up in the U.S. Pfizer is seeking approval from Federal regulators for a third

dose. Johnson & Johnson also says early trial data is promising for its booster shot.

Our CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is on the story for us. So, what are they considering here? How long could this approval take?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, I think it's going to be quite quick. In fact, the Biden administration is talking about it

almost as if it's a done deal when there hasn't even been F.D.A. - Food and Drug Administration, or C.D.C. review of it, which is quite unusual.

So, let's go over some of the basics here. So first of all, we know that Pfizer has begun its application to the Food and Drug Administration to get

approval for this third shot. So, the third shot and a booster, those are the same thing. What that basically means is that you're going to get a

third shot or in the U.S., a third shot some period of time after the first two.

Biden has already said that he plans to start boosters on September 20th. In studies, boosters were given about four to eight months after the second

dose. So, first dose, then three weeks, the second dose, and then four to eight months later, the third dose. And so, it's thought that when the

F.D.A. does make its approval, and it is -- we all assume it will be approved that it will be in that timeline, it will be suggested that people

get boosters about four to eight months, somewhere in there after their second dose -- Max.

FOSTER: A lot of people looking at younger people, of course, at the moment are getting some more details about how COVID-19 infections are

affecting teenagers 16 to 17.

COHEN: Right, Max, you know, we've always talked about COVID-19 as sort of one of the few sort of blessings of this virus was that it didn't seem to

affect children as much. And while that is still true, take a look at these numbers. This is so interesting.

In the U.S., when you look at 16 to 17-year-olds, the week of August 15th, there were 160 cases for every 100,000 people and the numbers are much

lower for other groups. So, 16 to 17-year-olds had the highest per capita rate.

You can see, for 30-year-olds, it was 153, for 75-plus, it was 64. And you know, the reason for that, of course, is that older people are more

vaccinated. There's more vaccinated people in those older groups. And so that's why you're seeing this.

And it is important to note that young people usually, thank goodness, do not have complications. They get COVID, they're asymptomatic, or they just

have a bit of an illness. But here's the issue, the more young people who get infected with COVID-19, a small percentage of them will end up in the

hospital or will unfortunately end up dying.

So, the more cases that you have, the more hospitalizations and deaths we will see as well. And this is such a young age group. You know, they

shouldn't be dying at all of anything and here we are seeing them dying of COVID.


FOSTER: Every day, something new and worrying. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for that.

Coming up on FIRST MOVE, the desperate evacuation efforts in Kabul now being hit by threats of terror attacks. A former U.S. Ambassador to

Afghanistan joins us next.


FOSTER: Welcome back. The U.S. and other Western nations warning of possible ISIS terror attacks on Kabul Airport where large crowds of

desperate people are still gathering as they try to flee the country.

The U.S. Embassy has told American citizens at the airport gates to leave immediately. The State Department estimates around 1,500 Americans remain

in Afghanistan.

Joining me now, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ronald Neumann joins me. He is also the President of the American Academy of Diplomacy. Thank

you so much for joining us.

This latest threat from this ISIS affiliate causing even more problems for the American military there. How do you think the local embassy will be

dealing with this right now?

RONALD NEUMANN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: Well, first of all, let me just emphasize, I'm speaking only for myself, not for the American

Academy of Diplomacy.

I think the embassy will be doing as much as it can, as will our military. But we have been, I think slower than we should be to go outside the

perimeter of the airport to bring people in. There's some of that happening, but the British, the Canadians, for example, have been much more

active than we have been. I don't think this reflects on the people on the ground. I think this is the command guidance from Washington.

FOSTER: Obviously, the current U.S. Ambassador can't go into much detail here. But he's been telling U.S. TV, it was clearly regarded as credible,

as imminent, as compelling, the threat here. It must have been very compelling to send out this diktat for people not to go to the airport.

NEUMANN: Yes, I would assume so. I mean, I know the Ambassador Ross Wilson. I have highest regard for him. I also know the procedure that we go

through or I say, we, as though I was still in -- the State Department goes through and considering such warnings and they look at the credibility, and

the ability to mitigate various things.

So, yes, I would take that very seriously.


FOSTER: What do you make of the current response from the U.S.? Obviously, they're scrambling at the moment to get as many people out as possible, but

do you feel it was necessary that we got to this point?

NEUMANN: No, I don't. I think they are two separate questions. One, the necessity of the decision to withdraw, which I don't think was -- I don't

think was necessary. I don't think it was a question of go big or go out. But that's over. That's done.

The bigger question is how the withdrawal was handled, which has been poor, and this constant fixation on deadlines. The President again, tried to hold

to this August 31st deadline. Everyone -- as far as I know, every one of his allies has said don't do this. We risk leaving hundreds, if not

thousands of people to whom we have debt of blood even in Afghanistan behind us.

I was talking to somebody last night, had a bunch of the Afghan commandos, who reached the airport and were turned away by Americans because they are

prioritizing Americans, I suppose. This was military not State Department.

I mean, come on, the commandos are the people we worked with the most closely. They're the people we depended on the most to carry the fight.

They have a tremendous reputation. They have nothing to do with President Biden's talking about Afghans who won't fight they. They are the elite

fighters. And we're going to walk away and leave them behind?

I mean, this an incredibly -- if we do that, we have not yet done it -- but if we do that that will be an incredible black spot that will be our

(INAUDIBLE) of people dying, because we stood by when we were partially responsible on the ground and had the ability to save them.

FOSTER: I just want to -- there's -- we are getting some reports of noises around the Kabul Airport, very worrying, obviously, with the context of the

Intelligence that we're receiving here.

Inevitably, some Americans will be left in Afghanistan, won't they, if there is this sudden rush, there will certainly be green card holders left

in Afghanistan. Without diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Taliban, what might the solution be for them? How are they going to get

out, do you think? What will be the way forward for them?

NEUMANN: Well, it's really difficult or impossible to predict what the situation will be. In some cases, the Taliban may want them out. They may

facilitate them leaving. In other cases, people could be taken hostage. That's been a big criminal problem in Afghanistan. So quite apart from

terrorism, the Taliban sort, you've got the potential of criminal hostage data.

The Haqqani network, which is part of the Taliban is still holding one American hostage right now. The last hostages they had were held in one

case for five years, a husband and wife; in another case for over two years going on three before they were released.

FOSTER: We are just getting a bit more information on the noises there at the airport, an explosion at the airport according to two U.S. officials.

One official said there were injuries amongst Afghan people, but there is no information yet on any U.S. casualties.

Obviously, frightening situation unfolding there. But presumably, Americans and Brits did what they could in terms of warning people that this might


NEUMANN: Well, we don't know yet whether whatever you're hearing now is the threat they were warning about, whether somebody has popped a few

mortars at the airport. Let's not get all wound up until we know more about it.

I mean, I've been under mortar attack in Afghanistan and Iraq multiple times and we've continued to function. So, let's see how serious this is.

FOSTER: I mentioned the Brits there, you'll be aware that British Parliamentarians have been very dismissive of the relationship with the

United States and feel very let down by the relationship with the United States because diplomacy is largely broken down, according to many

Parliamentarians, and Americans have been going their own way without considering their allies enough in this process. Do you have some sympathy

for that view?

NEUMANN: I have total sympathy for that view. I think that this is a real problem. Many of us, professionals, diplomats condemned the Trump

administration for ignoring our allies and what they've gotten so far with the Biden administration is a continuation of the same policy with the same


Blinken and goes and consults, everybody tells us we should stay and we left. Well Biden -- President Biden consults with the G7 about this

decision of the timeline, and they say we should extend the timeline, the parliamentary committees, including our Senate Foreign Relations Committee

say don't have a fixed timeline, and Biden ignores them.


NEUMANN: So, if you're going to consistently ignore your allies, you shouldn't expect your allies to pay too much attention to you.

FOSTER: Okay, Ambassador, thank you very much indeed.

For that, we're actually going across to Jim Sciutto and my colleagues at CNN U.S. for the latest on these explosions.