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August 25, 2021 @ 10:24 +03:00
President Joe Biden told G-7 leaders during an emergency meeting on Tuesday that he will keep the timeline previously set for the full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, though the U.S. is also making contingency plans should an extension proves necessary. “We are currently on pace to finish by August the 31st,” Biden said from the West Wing of the White House, in his third televised address on Afghanistan since the country fell to the Taliban.
“In addition, I’ve asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable should that become necessary,” Biden said. The president has faced political pressure to extend the withdrawal deadline from U.S. allies in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, as well as from his own party in Washington. However, Biden made clear Tuesday that he believes the sooner the U.S. can finish the evacuation operation the better.
The president warned that staying longer carries serious risks for allied troops and civilians. ISIS-K, an affiliate of the terror group based in Afghanistan, presents a growing threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport, the president said.
Biden also described the U.S. relationship with the Taliban on the ground in Kabul as “tenuous.” The militants have cooperated with the U.S. on the evacuations, the president said, but the longer the U.S. stays the greater the risk that fighting will break out.
The U.S. has evacuated or helped to get approximately 70,700 people out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14, according to figures released by the White House Tuesday evening. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated nearly 75,900 people.
As of Tuesday, approximately 4,000 American passport holders and their families have been airlifted from Afghanistan though there are still several thousand Americans believed to be awaiting evacuation.
Biden says Afghanistan evacuation on track to finish by Aug. 31 deadline as threats to Kabul airport grow, CNBC, Aug 25