France to end Afghan evacuations Thursday if US withdraws Aug 31
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France will end its evacuations from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan later this week if the United States sticks to a plan to pull its troops out at the end of August, a foreign ministry official said.
If the United States carries out a total withdrawal on August 31 as planned "for us... that means that our operation ends Thursday evening. So we have three days left," Nicolas Roche, the chief of staff for Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French Prime Minister Jean Castex Tuesday.
Almost 2,000 French nationals and Afghans have in recent days been evacuated by France via a military base in Abu Dhabi, after President Emmanuel Macron said the country was opening its arms to people under threat from the Taliban.
The foreign ministry has identified another 62 French citizens in need of evacuation while authorities are examining requests from many more Afghans to leave the country.
US President Joe Biden has set an August 31 deadline to finish the chaotic airlift organised by thousands of temporarily deployed troops, but has left the door open to an extension if needed.
However, a spokesman for the Taliban warned Monday the hardline Islamist group would not agree to any extension, calling the issue a "red line", with any delay viewed as "extending occupation".
Several Western countries have warned that it will not be possible to evacuate all those in need within this tight deadline.