Antony Blinken was asked by Tolo journalist: "Did you help President Ghani flee the country?"New Delhi:
Ashraf Ghani said he would "fight to the death" the night before he fled Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said in an interview to Tolo News.
Former Afghan President Ghani fled to the UAE as the Western-backed government collapsed and the Taliban raced through the country, overrunning 300,000 government troops, to take control of Kabul on August 15.
Mr Blinken was asked by Tolo journalist Lotfullah Najafizada: "Did you help President Ghani flee the country?"
The news outlet shared the video of his reply in a tweet.
"What he (Ghani) told me in that conversation the night before he fled is that as he put it he was prepared to fight to the death," said Mr Blinken.
Lotfullah Najafizada: "Did you help President Ghani flee the country?"— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) September 8, 2021
Blinken: Ghani said night before fleeing "he was prepared to fight to the death." Watch the exclusive interview with US Secretary Antony Blinken tonight at 8pm (#Afghanistan time) on TOLOnews#TOLOnewspic.twitter.com/aXh1KlPPTu
Mr Ghani today put out a statement apologizing to the people of Afghanistan for his exit and said he acted on the advice of the palace security.
"I owe the Afghan people an explanation for leaving Kabul abruptly on August 15 after Taliban unexpectedly entered the city," he wrote, adding that he had been warned that if he stayed, it would risk setting off the "horrific street-to-street fighting" that Kabul had suffered during the civil war of the 1990s.
He called leaving Kabul the most difficult decision of his life but asserted that it was the only way to keep the guns silent and save Kabul and its citizens. He also denied allegations that he had taken millions of dollars with him.
"It is with deep and profound regret that my own chapter ended in similar tragedy to my predecessors - without ensuring stability and prosperity. I apologise to the Afghan people that I could not make it end differently," Mr Ghani said in his statement a day after the Taliban announced a new interim government full of hardliners, globally wanted terrorists and no women.
The US said it was "concerned" by the Taliban government, but would judge it by its actions.
According to news agency AFP, Mr Blinken, in the virtual talks with 20 other nations including European allies, is likely to try and shore up international pressure on the Taliban to make good on their promises.