By Jennifer Ugwueke
US President, Joe Biden has rejected pleas from his fellow G7 leaders to extend the evacuation date of people from Aghanistan beyond August 31 .
According to Biden, who will have the Afghanistan debacle as one of his foreign policy failures, the U.S. is on pace to complete its evacuation operation in Afghanistan by his Aug. 31 deadline, and that staying longer would increase the risk to U.S. troops, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, August 24.
US allies including the U.K., France and Germany have lobbied the Biden administration to press the Taliban to extend the timeline, fearing they won’t be able to get their citizens and Afghan allies out in time.
But the Taliban on Monday, August 23 said it views the Aug. 31 date as a red line, and that the presence of foreign troops beyond that deadline would have ‘consequences’.
Biden is still aiming to get out before then though he has asked for “contingency plans,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said.
Psaki said Biden stressed that the U.S. will need cooperation from the Taliban to finish the operation on time.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said earlier Tuesday, August 24, that the group would continue to allow foreign nationals to depart but would block Afghans from leaving the country, in a potential challenge to Biden’s promise to protect the Afghans who served alongside U.S. troops.
The Pentagon has acknowledged it will need time to withdraw U.S. troops and equipment, meaning the August 31 deadline might not be feasible.
After the virtual G7 gathering on Tuesday , the group issued a joint statement that included a list of conditions on which they said the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s next government would depend.
Those included preventing terrorism, allowing humanitarian access, countering drug and human trafficking and safeguarding the rights of women, children and ethnic and religious minorities.
“We will judge the Afghan parties by their actions, not their words,” the statement read.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson who chaired the G7 meeting said afterward that the G7’s “number one condition” was that the Taliban allow safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31.