Afghan evacuation on ‘war footing’ as G7 meets on Taliban deadline

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Uba Group

Uba Group

BY AGENCY REPORTER  

Western forces at Kabul Airport worked flat out on Tuesday to get people out of Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline as US President Joe Biden faced growing pressure to negotiate more time for the airlift of thousands of stranded people.

Widespread chaos punctuated by sporadic violence has gripped Kabul’s Airport with Western troops and Afghan security guards driving back crowds desperate to flee following the Taliban’s take over of the Afghan capital on August 15.

Countries that have evacuated some 50,000 people over the past 10 days are trying to meet the deadline agreed earlier with the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign forces, a NATO diplomat told Reuters.

“Every foreign force member is working at a war-footing pace to meet the deadline,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries – Britain, Canada, France Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States – will meet virtually later today (Tuesday) to discuss the crisis.

Biden, who had said that US troops might stay beyond the deadline, had warned that the evacuation was going to be ‘hard and painful’ and much could still go wrong.

Democratic US Representative, Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told reporters after a briefing on Afghanistan by intelligence officials that he did not believe the evacuation could be completed in the eight days remaining.

“I think it’s possible but I think it’s very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated,” Schiff said.

A Taliban official said, on Monday, that an extension would not be granted, though he said foreign forces had not sought one. Washington, however, said that negotiations were continuing.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter, ahead of the G7 meeting, “I will ask our friends and allies to stand by the Afghan people and step up support for refugees and humanitarian aid.

“The Taliban will be judged by their deeds and not their words.”

Britain’s Defense Minister, Ben Wallace, told Sky News that it was doubtful that there would be an extension “not only because of what the Taliban said but also if you look at the public statements of President Biden, I think it is unlikely.”

NAN.