Monday, September 20

Biden: “We will leave on August 31, if the Taliban cooperate”

Washington Correspondent



Joe Biden intends to meet the full withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan of August 31, although that may mean that tens of thousands of Afghan asylum seekers are trapped in that country at the mercy of the Taliban guerrillas, who took power again ago. little more than a week. The same president confirmed on Tuesday his intention to complete the departure from Afghanistan on August 31, claiming that in just 19 days he has managed to extract 70,000 people from that country.

«The sooner we can finish, the better, because every day that passes the danger to our troops grows“Said the President of the United States in a speech that he postponed for almost six hours, after a hectic day of meetings and consultations at the White House. Biden said both the Pentagon and the State Department are working on contingency plans “in case that deadline cannot be met.” “The departure on August 31 depends on whether the Taliban continue to cooperate and allow access to the airport to those who want to leave,” Biden said in his speech, in which he admitted questions to us. He also said that an affiliate of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, in turn an enemy of the Taliban, is another serious threat to uniformed and civilians in Kabul.

Earlier, the White House spokeswoman called this operation “the largest airlift extraction in US history.” “It’s about getting out not only American citizens, but also Afghan collaborators and our partners,” he said. Jen Psaki at a press conference.

On the same Tuesday, the US president informed his G-7 partners, who for their part insisted that he extend the deadline, despite the fact that the Islamists have refused to cooperate on that front and insist on a complete withdrawal in a week.

For his part, the director of the CIA, William Burns, was in Kabul on Monday to meet with the Taliban’s political leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This meeting took place in the middle of the evacuation operation for foreign citizens and Afghan refugees. Neither the intelligence agency nor the Joe Biden administration revealed yesterday the issue or the possible agreements reached in those direct talks, which the newspaper ‘The Washington Post’ revealed.

Contingency plans

According to White House sources, the president has asked the generals at the Pentagon for contingency plans in case the thousands of US citizens and Afghan civilians he plans could not be extracted within a week. grant asylum. Moments earlier, the Islamists had said they will cut off access to Kabul airport and prevent Afghan citizens from leaving.

This same Tuesday, Biden spoke for seven minutes at a meeting of the G-7, the great allied powers of the United States. The leaders of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the European Commission, participated in that virtual meeting. the European Council, the United Nations and NATO. There, the US president, who intervened from the White House, updated his partners on immediate US plans and said that your intention is to meet the August 31 deadline, but that he understands that this may be subject to the possibility of extracting all the people trapped in the Kabul airport.

The White House said yesterday that 12,700 people were evacuated on 37 flights. US military and an additional 8,900 on other flights of its allies during the previous 24 hours. The Pentagon has said it has increased the pace of flights from Kabul, hoping to complete the evacuation in a week.

The way in which he has executed the exit from Afghanistan and the increase in coronavirus infections have taken their toll on Biden, who has seen his internal popularity ratings sink to the lowest point in seven months of presidency. Only 46% approve of his management today, according to an Ipsos poll for Reuters. However, a considerable majority, over 60%, believe that retiring was the right thing to do.

Biden inherited from Donald Trump the commitment to withdraw completely from Afghanistan this year, although it extended the deadline from May to September. Since accelerating the withdrawal, the president has maintained that his decision has been the right one and has blamed the return of the Islamists to power on the Afghan government, which fled and left Kabul free.

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said after the G-7 meeting that at the meeting he and the other leaders had agreed on a roadmap to deal with the Taliban in the future, and that their inalienable condition is that the guerrillas allow a safe corridor for those who want to leave. from the country after the August 31 deadline.

In fact, as the G-7 said in a post-meeting statement, their immediate priority is’ensure safe evacuation of our citizens and Afghans who have partnered with us and assisted us in our efforts over the past twenty years, and to ensure safe and continuous passage out of Afghanistan. ”

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin trudeau, said his country is “ready to stay” in Afghanistan beyond August 31, joining European allies who had earlier expressed concern about the Biden administration’s self-imposed deadline for leaving Kabul airport. “I stressed that Canada is ready to stay past the August 31 deadline if possible,” Trudeau told reporters in Ontario, Reuters reports.

The US State Department has granted visas to 34,500 Afghan asylees, under a special program for refugees. There are another 20,000 waiting for those visas to be processed. Some 7,000 of them have already been given the green light to leave on flights operated by the US military, but chaos at the Kabul airport has blocked their exit. Many will go to US or joint-use military bases in third countries, including Spain, waiting for their US entry visas to be processed.

After the collapse of the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the US has no diplomatic ties with those who de facto rule the country. At the moment, the White House does not confirm or deny that it will formally recognize the insurgents as rulers.

Even so, since the Trump presidency, the United States has negotiated with the Islamists, in the hopeless hope that they would negotiate with the previous administration, whose president, Ashraf Ghani, has fled the country. In 2019 Trump even invited Taliban emissaries to the presidential residence of Camp David on the eve of September 11, but canceled the meeting due to the death of an American soldier in an attack.

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