The President of the United States, Joe Biden, said in a statement on Tuesday (24) that he intends to keep the date of August 31 as the deadline for withdrawing all its citizens and allies from Afghanistan, fulfilling the agreement with the Taliban, which dominates the country.
“We will continue our close cooperation to get people out as quickly and efficiently as possible. The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki had already anticipated in a statement that the US president will maintain the deadline for withdrawal.
“He also made it clear that with each day of ground operations, we increase the risk to our troops with increasing threats from IS (Islamic State),” Psaki said.
Biden added that the mission’s completion by Aug. 31, however, depends on “continuous coordination with the Taliban,” which must maintain its part of the deal.
Afghan civilians prepare to board a plane to leave the country at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday (18) — Photo: Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/US Marine Corps via AP
This includes continuous access to the airport. Despite this, the president asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the schedule if necessary.
He said 12,700 people were evacuated by 37 US military flights and 8,900 were evacuated by coalition flights in the past 24 hours. The Pentagon added that the military has increased the pace of flights from Kabul to a plane departing every 45 minutes.
In total, since Aug. 14, the eve of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, 70,700 people have been evacuated safely from Afghanistan, according to Biden.
The US had been withdrawing its presence in Afghan territory since May this year, but efforts were accelerated after the Taliban retake power on 15 August.
The Americans control the international airport in Kabul and organize the pick-up flights for foreign nationals and Afghans who contributed to the government.
On Sunday (22) Biden said that planes leaving Kabul are not going directly to the US, and that they will first land at US bases around the world for security reasons.
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Biden’s statement about maintaining the deadline runs counter to the expectations of European leaders who would like to count on his support to ask for more time to withdraw from the Taliban, especially British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
After a virtual meeting Tuesday morning, in which Biden announced the decision, Johnson also said that the G7 countries had agreed that the Taliban “should grant free and safe passage to foreigners and Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan after the 31st”.
US President Joe Biden attends a virtual G7 meeting on Tuesday (24) on the withdrawal of citizens from Afghanistan — Photo: Reproduction/Twitter/WhiteHouse
Despite Johnson’s statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the meeting that the G7 meeting did not result in an extension of the deadline for evacuations.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said only that G7 leaders agreed on the need to put pressure on the Taliban to allow people to leave Afghanistan after the deadline.
But also on Tuesday, the Taliban said it does not accept any plans to extend the withdrawal period. In addition, the extremist group also tried to discourage Afghans from trying to flee the country through Kabul airport.