US says withdraw deadline Biden’s decision alone after Taliban warning

by Sami Burgaz
‘Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how this proceeds. No one else’s,’ says Biden’s national security advisor.

WASHINGTON (AA) – The decision of whether the US will meet an Aug. 31 deadline for the full withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan is President Joe Biden’s alone, a senior administration official said on Monday.

The comments come just hours after the Taliban warned of “consequences” if foreign forces stayed in the country beyond Aug. 31, calling the date, just over a week from now, a “red line.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, said the US continues to engage with the Taliban daily “on every aspect of what’s happening in (the capital) Kabul right now” amid ongoing operations to evacuate Americans and Afghans seeking refugee status.

“We’ll continue those conversations with them. Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how this proceeds. No one else’s,” said Sullivan.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News earlier on Monday that if the US were to seek talks aimed at extending the deadline, “the answer is no.”

“It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” he said.

Biden has left the door open to staying in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31, but said on Sunday he hopes “we will not have to extend, but there are going to be discussions” on the matter.

The topic is expected to arise during a virtual G7 meeting on Tuesday, with UK Premier Boris Johnson expected to push Biden for an extension of the self-imposed deadline.

Roughly 37,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the US took control of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 14. That figure includes about 10,400 people who were evacuated on US military flights from early Sunday morning until early Monday morning, according to the White House.

The Taliban’s lightning takeover of the capital on Aug. 15 set off a scramble to leave Afghanistan, including among locals who have worked with US forces and organizations and fear for their lives under Taliban rule.


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