Afghanistan: Biden Sticks To August 31 Evacuation Deadline
President Joe Biden will not extend the deadline for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan beyond August 31, a senior official has said.
Reuters reports that the President made the decision to follow the recommendation of the Pentagon following discussion with his national security team, despite requests from the United Kingdom and other coalition partners for the deadline to be extended, allowing more people to be evacuated.
The news comes as Biden participated in crisis talks at an emergency G7 summit with other world leaders, with pressure mounting both from international allies and on both sides of the aisle domestically to allow more time to ensure foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghan civilians are able to leave the country.
In a briefing, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said there had been ‘no change to the timeline of the mission, which is to have it done by the end of the month’. According to CNN, Biden spoke for seven minutes at the G7 meeting, and is expected to address his decision publicly later today.
Earlier today, a Taliban spokesperson said that the group would not allow international forces to remain in the country beyond the date set out by Biden, and confirmed that the Taliban would no longer be allowing Afghan citizens wishing to leave the country to access the airport.
In a press conference, Zabihullah Mujahid warned that the Taliban would ‘take a different stance’ if a US military presence remained at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International airport beyond August 31 .
The US confirmed today more than 20,000 people had been evacuated from the airport in the past 24 hours, with flights currently departing roughly every 45 minutes.
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