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US considering moving embassy in Afghanistan and drawing down personnel as more cities fall to Taliban

The US is also expected to draw down some personnel from its diplomatic outpost in the Afghan capital, the US and Western source said.

The US official said options are being weighed in real time but cautioned that the situation remains fluid. They indicated that decisions are likely to evolve in the days and weeks ahead given the rapidly changing situation on the ground.

“There’s obviously a dramatically different tempo to the discussions currently under way. But there are a lot of different equities that need to be weighed right now,” the US official said.

The Western diplomatic source also described the relocation to the airport as one of the possibilities being discussed, calling it “the most probable.” They said there is a lot of expedited planning going on about the broader future diplomatic presence in Kabul, saying the “mood has changed but we are still not at the collapse.”

This source said the US could make the move to the airport in order to be able to get diplomats out of the country faster if it becomes necessary, and also because in the future, there could be challenges in getting from the embassy to the airport.

The Biden national security team has been holding calls and meetings Thursday with what sources describe as a growing sense of urgency about the accelerating Taliban gains in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Thursday morning and he spoke with national security adviser Jake Sullivan as recently as Wednesday night to discuss the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Top DOD and military officials were in urgent meetings Thursday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and review security plans if a drawdown of the embassy is ordered, according to at least four DOD officials.

All of the officials described a sense of urgency to the meetings with some officials having to cancel their planned schedules in order to attend.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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