Afghanistan: Biden says he's sticking to August 31 withdrawal deadline
United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he wants to stick to the August 31 deadline for pullout from Afghanistan. The American President has been under pressure to extend the date. "The sooner we can finish, the better," Biden said, citing a growing risk of terror attacks. The Taliban took control of Afghanistan after seizing Kabul on August 15.
Biden had discussed the evacuation operations with G7 leaders earlier on Tuesday. The representatives agreed to "continue our close cooperation to get people out as efficiently and safely as possible," he said. He added that meeting the August 31 deadline depends "upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who we're transporting out."
Biden said the withdrawal must conclude soon because of an increasing threat of attack by the Islamic State group in Afghanistan. "Every day we are on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians," he said. The US has evacuated 70,700 people from Kabul since August 14.
The Taliban, who had brutally ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, regained control of the country earlier this month, bringing an end to the 20-year-long war. Soon after the takeover, countries began evacuating their troops and citizens, and many were killed in the chaos that ensued at the Kabul international airport. However, the insurgents are yet to form a government.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has paused funding for projects in Afghanistan. It cited concerns over how the Taliban takeover will impact the "country's development prospects, especially for women." "We are closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with our internal policies and procedures," a World Bank spokesperson told the BBC. Earlier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had suspended payments to the war-torn nation.
Separately, India has so far evacuated more than 800 people from Kabul since the Taliban capture. On Tuesday, 78 people, including 25 Indian nationals, were brought to New Delhi. However, nearly 200 more people are yet to be airlifted from the country.