President Joe Biden will not push back the deadline to finish evacuations in Afghanistan, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
Biden has set an Aug. 31 deadline to finish the evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies in Kabul.
Earlier Tuesday, the Taliban said Afghans will be prevented from going to the Kabul airport.
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The White House announced Tuesday that the US intended to maintain the August 31 deadline for completing evacuations from the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden was set to address the nation from the White House at 12 p.m. ET Tuesday about the “ongoing efforts” in Afghanistan, but the speech was pushed back by more than four hours.
Biden during his address reiterated that the US intended to conclude the evacuations by August 31, but said it “the completion … depends on the Taliban cooperating.”
“I’ve asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable, should that be necessary,” Biden added.
The president said that as of Tuesday afternoon, the US evacuated 70,700 people from Afghanistan since August 14.
Biden also warned that prolonging the evacuations from Afghanistan, which thousands of US troops have helped coordinate from Kabul’s airport, would increase the risk of an ISIS-K attack.
“The sooner we can finish the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops,” Biden said. “But the completion by Aug 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing the cooperate and allow access to the airport to those we’re transporting out – and no disruptions to our operations.”
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians,” the president said.
The president underscored that anyone arriving in the US as a result of the evacuations who’s not a US citizen or legal resident will be subjected to “thorough security screening in the intermediate stops they are making.”
“Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check,” Biden said.
Biden spoke with other G7 leaders about the Afghanistan evacuations earlier in the day.
“During a meeting this morning with the G7 leaders, the President conveyed that our mission in Kabul will end based on the achievement of our objectives. He confirmed we are currently on pace to finish by August 31st,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The speech came as the Taliban is pushing back on America’s evacuation efforts, saying Afghans will be prevented from going to the airport in the capital of Kabul to try to flee the country.
A Taliban spokesperson urged the US against pushing Afghan nationals to leave, saying their skills will be required to rebuild the country.
“We are asking the American: please change your policy and don’t encourage Afghans to leave,” said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Taliban also said Tuesday that the US must finish its evacuation of people from Afghanistan by the Biden administration’s August 31 deadline.
The militant group said it will not accept any extensions on the withdrawal date, and has warned of “consequences” if the deadline is missed or pushed back.
Meanwhile, reports emerged Tuesday that Biden had CIA Director William Burns meet with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday – making it “the highest-level face-to-face encounter between the Taliban and the Biden administration since the militants seized the Afghan capital,” The Washington Post first reported.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan for the first time since 2001 last week after the rapid collapse of the US-backed Afghan government, which stunned the Biden administration.
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