AP reporter argues with the State Department over Afghanistan


State Department spokesman Ned Price was momentarily speechless Tuesday after another verbal sparring match with Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee.

Lee, who got tangled up with Price in February about the Biden government’s approach to the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany – and even accused Biden officials of “having used the previous government’s affairs” “- Fired the first rhetorical volley, asking about the government’s policy on Afghanistan as the final withdrawal of US forces takes place.

At the beginning of the briefing, Price said when Biden took office, “There was already an agreement between the United States government and the Taliban. And like it or not, May 1st would change the status quo that would have been in effect on April 30th. And so the government, the president, was faced with a situation where on May 1st, under an agreement negotiated by the previous government … American troops might be attacked from May 1st if they stayed in the country … [and] Continuing to endanger larger numbers of US forces was not something the President was ready to commit to. “

Moments later, Lee said to Price, “I don’t understand the argument that you inherited an agreement with the Taliban that the previous government made and that you had no choice.

Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee argues with Ned Price over Biden's Afghanistan policy on July 6, 2021.
Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee argues with Ned Price over Biden’s Afghanistan policy on July 6, 2021.

“This government inherited a lot from the previous government, which absolutely reversed it,” added the reporter. “Are you saying that you are not … convinced of your negotiating skills, that … you cannot renegotiate a deal with the Taliban and … are you saying that the president actually did not want to withdraw troops, right?” Don’t you want to withdraw? “

Price responded by pointing out that Lee “mixed up different things”.

“These are apples and oranges,” said the spokesman. “Yes, we changed some US policies on several fronts, but I think you would have a hard time finding an international agreement that the United States signed during the last administration that ousted that administration . “.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price argued with Lee in February about the government's approach to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
State Department spokesman Ned Price discussed the government’s approach to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Lee in February

“How about the Geneva Protocol on Anti-Abortion Stuff?” Lee asked, referring to a statement signed last year by the US and 33 other countries that said, “There is no international law Abortion”. Biden removed the US from the statement in January.

Trying to continue his earlier answer to Lee’s question, Price went on, “This was the point we made in a series of steps on the importance of the permanence of American foreign policy – American foreign policy across all administrations.”

“How about the Northern Triangle, Mexico and Northern Triangle agreements? [on illegal immigration]? “Lee persisted.” These are international agreements that you threw overboard. “

“Those, that is -” Lee began before saying, “Matt, uh, no. II think – “

“I mean, you just challenged me to make an international agreement that the previous government signed and that you left,” Lee replied, “and I think I gave you three.”

“The previous government had its own guidelines,” said a seemingly recovered Price. “This government has different policies on several fronts. But this administration also understands the importance of having the United States sign its name and take its word for it under a formal international agreement, particularly one that works on behalf of … the American people, including our military, posted military personnel , we take that very seriously. “

Video of the exchange was widespread shared on twitter, including former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas).

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