President Joe Biden was facing growing pressure from top US allies Tuesday to extend a deadline for exiting Afghanistan in one week, as foreign evacuation missions ramp up against the backdrop of harrowing reports of Taliban executions.
Leaders of the Group of 7 will meet in a virtual gathering on Tuesday, the first such international forum since the crisis in Afghanistan unfolded. With the August 31 deadline for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan fast approaching, America’s allies are expected to press Biden to extend the military deployment. Biden has so far not publicly committed to such a move, worrying some allies who fear there won’t be enough time to get their citizens, along with Afghan allies who assisted in the war effort, out of the country by the end of the month.
The US evacuated a record 12,700 people from Kabul airport between Monday and Tuesday morning, according to a White House official, and another 8,900 people were evacuated by 57 coalition flights. The US has now evacuated some 58,700 people from Afghanistan since August 14. The US military has advised Biden that he must decide by Tuesday whether to extend the evacuation beyond August 31, according to a defense official directly familiar with the discussions, though Biden has yet to make a decision.
Speaking ahead of the G7 meeting Tuesday, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News he thought it was “unlikely” Biden would extend the deadline date, though he added “it is definitely worth a try, and we will.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that more time was needed. “We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31. Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations,” he told AFP. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas advocated for negotiating with the Taliban on the deadline. “As bitter as it is, we need to talk to the Taliban,” Maas said in a tweet. “The alternative would be to abandon these people. And we are not willing to do that.” But the Taliban has described August 31 as a “red line” and threatened consequences if the White House moves to delay the US withdrawal.