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Biden stands by withdrawal plan despite pressure from allies


Afghanistan updates

Joe Biden is sticking by his plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by the tip of the month, defying international pressure from key European allies and others to permit extra time for evacuations.

The US president’s determination caps days of uncertainty concerning the destiny of the August 31 deadline for the ultimate pullout of American army from Afghanistan. It comes amid rising considerations concerning the safety state of affairs round Kabul airport and the chaotic effort to evacuate hundreds of overseas nationals and Afghans overseas.

“The earlier we are able to end, the higher,” Biden mentioned in remarks from the White Home on Tuesday, greater than 5 hours after he was initially scheduled to talk. “Every day of operations brings added danger to our troops.”

Biden mentioned the US remained on “tempo” to finish its mission within the nation by August 31, citing a rise within the tempo of evacuations in current days. Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of roughly 70,700 folks, the president added.

Bubble chart showing the estimated number of evacuees relocated from Afghanistan as of 24 August 2021 by country of relocation

At a briefing earlier within the day, Jen Psaki, the White Home press secretary, mentioned that civilian evacuations might finish even earlier in an effort to give the army time to “wind down” its presence.

However Biden warned that assembly that deadline would rely on the “Taliban persevering with to co-operate and permit[ing] entry to the airport for individuals who we’re transporting out, and no disruption to our operations”.

Biden additionally mentioned he had requested the Pentagon and State division to develop “contingency plans” for an extended presence if wanted.

The US president had come underneath strain from Britain, France and Germany specifically to increase the US mission in Afghanistan past August 31, together with throughout Tuesday’s G7 assembly. However Biden pointed to safety threats from Isis-Okay, a terrorist group, together with to the Kabul airport, as one of many important elements behind his determination to reject an extension.

“On daily basis we’re on the bottom is one other day we all know that Isis-Okay is looking for to focus on the airport, assault each US and allied forces, and harmless civilians,” Biden mentioned.

John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, later confirmed that a number of hundred US troops had already departed Afghanistan.

“These troops characterize a mixture of headquarters employees, upkeep and different enabling features that have been scheduled to go away and whose mission on the airport was full. It’ll haven’t any influence on the mission at hand,” Kirby mentioned.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Russia in March
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban co-founder, in Russia in March © Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The G7 assembly got here because the Taliban blocked the street to Kabul airport for Afghans, which threatens to chop off these weak to reprisals from the Islamist motion.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, mentioned the group would permit foreigners to go away by the airport however ordered Afghans to not go to the airport due to the chaotic crowds and the chance of stampedes, urging them to return to their jobs and houses.

He reiterated that every one overseas evacuations needed to be accomplished by August 31. “We don’t permit it any extra and name on them to evacuate by that date,” he mentioned. “They [western states] have the chances, they’ve the planes, the airfield is with them and so they can evacuate folks by that date.”

Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister who chaired the G7 assembly, mentioned leaders had agreed a joint method to place pressure on the Taliban to permit protected passage overseas for Afghans even after August 31.

“The number-one situation that we’re setting because the G7 is that they’ve to ensure proper the best way by, by August 31 and past, protected passage for individuals who wish to come out,” he mentioned.

Groups of people wait on the tarmac at Kabul’s airport on Monday
Teams of individuals wait at Kabul’s airport on Monday © Maxar Tech/Reuters

Washington has come underneath mounting criticism internationally and domestically over the chaotic withdrawal and the mayhem surrounding the evacuation course of. The Taliban seized power 10 days in the past after a lightning blitz throughout the nation following the drawdown of US troops.

William Burns, CIA director, met earlier this week with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban co-founder. It was the best person-to-person assembly because the Islamist group returned to energy, in line with an individual aware of the encounter. The CIA declined to remark.

The worry for a lot of Afghans is that the Taliban will persecute those that have labored for western militaries, corresponding to translators and drivers, in addition to journalists and critics of the Islamist group.

Mujahid rejected strategies that the Taliban was looking for people related to the outdated regime, saying that the group had introduced a basic amnesty. He mentioned that hospitals and colleges had reopened and banks have been as a consequence of reopen on Wednesday.

Afghans on the airport had nothing to worry, Mujahid added. “We assure their safety.”

A lot of these scrambling to board flights are among the many most-educated members of the inhabitants, who’re wanted to maintain the economic system and public companies operating.

Further reporting by Aime Williams and Katrina Manson in Washington

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