Washington, Aug 24 (EFE).- The United States military is “on a pace” to complete the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 date agreed with the Taliban, President Joe Biden said Tuesday.
Hours after a virtual meeting with the leaders of the other G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdoms – where he rejected calls to extend the deadline, he said that he told the Pentagon to be ready with contingency options to “adjust that timetable” if necessary.
“We are currently on a pace to finish by Aug. 31. I am determined to complete our mission,” Biden said.
He acknowledged, however, that the military’s ability to wrap up the airlift on time “depends on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport to those who are transporting out and no disruptions to our operation.”
“The sooner we finish the better,” the president said. “Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
Biden identified the source of that risk as ISIS (Islamic State), enemies of both the US and the Taliban who are thought to have been behind some of the worst terror attacks in Afghanistan in the last year.
Since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 14, the US has evacuated more than 70,000 people from the Afghan capital, the president said.
The Taliban said Monday that a US failure to complete the withdrawal by Aug. 31 would “provoke a reaction.”
Looking ahead, the G7 said that the Taliban “will be held accountable for their actions on preventing terrorism, on human rights in particular those of women, girls and minorities and on pursuing an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.”
“The legitimacy of any future government depends on the approach it now takes to uphold its international obligations and commitments to ensure a stable Afghanistan,” the group said in a statement following the virtual summit.
In his remarks later Tuesday, Biden said that the G7 were united on Afghanistan.
“We’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder with our closest partners to meet the current challenges that we face in Afghanistan, just as we have for the past 20 years,” he said. EFE