Taliban stick to Aug. 31 deadline for foreign forces exit

by Sami Burgaz
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid holds 2nd news conference in Kabul.

ANKARA (AA) – The Taliban on Tuesday said the group does not intend to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for the exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

In his second press conference since the group’s takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave.

“We will not be extending (August) 31st deadline. They (US) can take all the people who belong to them. We are not going to let Afghans leave,” he said in the briefing in the Afghan capital, which was streamed live by international media.

Under the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha last February, the US-led foreign forces were supposed to leave the war-torn country by May 31 this year, which was later unilaterally extended until Aug. 31 by US President Joe Biden.

The “bloodless” takeover has triggered a wave of Afghans rushing to Kabul airport to leave the country. Foreign missions are evacuating their citizens, diplomats as well as some Afghan forces who worked for them.

But the group has urged Afghan nationals to go home, saying life is returning to normal.

The Taliban spokesman also asked the US “not (to) encourage our doctors, engineers and educated elite” to leave Afghanistan.

On a question if female workers in Afghanistan are facing problems, Mujahid asked them “to stay home until security allows.”

Mujahid also refused to confirm whether Taliban co-founder Ghani Baradar, who recently arrived in the country after 20 years, met CIA Director William Burns. The Washington Post claimed Burns held a secret meeting with Baradar on Monday.

The spokesman commented on Panjshir, which is under the control of forces affiliated with the former government along with local groups, saying the possibility of armed clashes was low and the issue would be soon resolved.

Ensuring the safety of those living in Panjshir, he predicted that there was an 80% chance that there would not be a conflict there called on groups in control of the province to hand over military equipment taken to the region.

As for Turkey’s operation of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and its military presence, the spokesman said the Taliban sought to develop positive relations with the government and people of Turkey but there would not be a need for a foreign force once the problem at the airport was resolved.


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