The United States has already begun to draw down American troops posted at Kabul’s international airport, as President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he is committed to the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing completely from Afghanistan. However, it all “depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate,” said Biden, adding that “contingency plans to adjust the timetable, should that become necessary,” are on standby.
Earlier on Tuesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had told G7 leaders that the U.S. is “currently on pace” to finish the evacuation by the end of the month. “He also made clear that with each day of operations on the grounds we have added risk to our troops with increasing threats from ISIS-K, and that completion of the mission by August 31st depends on continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport,” her statement said. “In addition, the President has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timeline should that become necessary.”
Chaotic and dangerous conditions at the Kabul airport have made it extremely difficult to evacuate American citizens and Afghan nationals who are at risk of Taliban reprisals because they helped U.S. forces during the war. With the deadline approaching and thousands still trapped under Taliban rule, top CIA officials met in secret with the Taliban on Monday. However, the Taliban said Tuesday that it wouldn’t budge on the Aug. 31 deadline set by the Biden administration before the Afghan government imploded.