Biden expected to decide within 24 hours on Afghan evacuation deadline

Reuters
Kabul / Washington Published: Aug 24, 2021, 09:02 AM(IST)

US President Joe Biden (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

With thousands of desperate Afghans and foreigners massed at Kabul's airport in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers, US President Joe Biden is expected to decide as soon as Tuesday on whether to extend an August 31 deadline to airlift Americans and their allies to safety

With thousands of desperate Afghans and foreigners massed at Kabul's airport in the hope of fleeing Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers, US President Joe Biden is expected to decide as soon as Tuesday on whether to extend an August 31 deadline to airlift Americans and their allies to safety.

Biden warned on Sunday that the evacuation was going to be "hard and painful" and much could still go wrong. US troops might stay beyond an August 31 deadline to oversee the evacuation, he said.

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On Monday, an administration official told Reuters that Biden would decide within 24 hours whether to extend the timeline to give the Pentagon time to prepare.

Beyond the need to remove thousands of Americans, citizens of allied countries and Afghans who worked with US forces, Department of Defense officials said it would still take days to fly out the 6,000 troops deployed to secure and run the airlift.

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Some Biden advisers were arguing against extending the self-imposed deadline for security reasons. Biden could signal his intentions at a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Tuesday.

Two US officials had said the expectation was that the United States would continue evacuations past August 31. A senior State Department official told reporters the country's commitment to at-risk Afghans "doesn't end on August 31."

A Taliban official said foreign forces had not sought an extension and it would not be granted if they had. Washington said negotiations were continuing.

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