Biden to stick to August 31 Afghanistan pullout deadline: US media

By: AFP      Published: 10:11 PM, 24 Aug, 2021
Biden to stick to August 31 Afghanistan pullout deadline: US media

US President Joe Biden has decided to stick to his August 31 deadline to pull American forces out of Afghanistan, US media reported Tuesday.

Biden made the decision after talks with G7 counterparts and a demand by the Taliban that the United States not extend its stay past the end of this month, CNN, Fox News and other media reported, citing senior US officials.

He was expected to announce his decision Tuesday afternoon amid concerns that US citizens and thousands of Afghans who worked for American and allied coalition troops in the country could be left behind.

It means that the nearly 6,000 US troops who have taken control of Kabul's Hamid Karzai international Airport since August 14 have just seven days to wind up their operation and exit.

The decision comes a day after officials in Germany, Britain, France and other countries expressed hopes that the United States will keep the airlift going after the end of the month to enable all of their local staff as well as their nationals to get out.

But the G7 leaders, in a video conference early Tuesday, apparently agreed to stick to the deadline that Biden set in April.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after the meeting that the Taliban must "guarantee" safe passage for those fleeing -- even beyond the August 31 deadline. 

Johnson, who convened the emergency G7 meeting, said that he and his colleagues had agreed "a roadmap for the way in which we're going to engage with the Taliban" in the future. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has  the Islamist group, which took Kabul on August 15 in a lightning victory that stunned the world and brought an abrupt end to 20 years of war, would not agree to an extension to the deadline.

Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said that the Islamist group was sending the same message in private communications as it was publicly.

"The Taliban have been very clear about what their expectations are," Kirby said.

"The public and private statements are the same; without getting into details, I'm not seeing much dissonance," he told reporters.

Categories : South Asia