Meeting Aug. 31 deadline depends on Taliban continuing to cooperate, ‘no disruption to our operations,’ says president.
ANKARA (AA) – President Joe Biden reaffirmed Tuesday that the US is “on pace” to complete the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by his Aug. 31 deadline.
“The sooner we can finish, the better,” he told a news conference in the White House Roosevelt Room, adding “each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
“The completion by Aug. 31 depends on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allowing access to the airport for those who we’re transporting out, and no disruption to our operations,” he said.
Biden underlined that the US as of Tuesday afternoon had helped 70,700 people leave Afghanistan, noting that since the end of July, a total of 75,900 people have been evacuated.
He also emphasized that in the last 12 hours, the US had evacuated 12,000 people from Afghanistan, including 6,400 by US military flights and 5,600 through coalition flights.
Speaking on the refugees and evacuees currently fleeing Afghanistan, the president said the US “will be a leader in these efforts.” He also urged the international community and US partners “to do the same.”
Biden said the US is currently working to resettle thousands of Afghans who used to work with them.
“Anyone arriving in the US will have undergone a background check,” he said, adding “we must all work together to resettle thousands of Afghans who ultimately qualify for refugee status.”
He went on to say that the US is “working closely” with refugee organizations to “rebuild the system.”
The refugee program “was purposely destroyed by my predecessor,” he added.
Referring to a G7 leaders’ virtual meeting earlier in the day on how nations can come together in support of the Afghan people, he said: “We are going to stay united, locked at the hip in terms of what we have to do. We’ll get that done.”
He highlighted that all G7 leaders and the leaders of the European Union, NATO and the UN agreed that they will take all necessary steps to prevent Afghanistan from “being used as a base for terrorism.”
Biden departed the Roosevelt Room without responding to questions from reporters.
Afghanistan’s de facto rules have made clear that the Taliban are unwilling to accept any extension of the US mission beyond August.