President Biden has decided not to extend an Aug. 31 deadline to remove all American troops from Afghanistan, a U.S. official tells Fox News.
The development comes shortly after a Taliban spokesperson – following a meeting between leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and CIA Director William Burns in Kabul – said there will be “no extensions” to the Biden administration’s Aug. 31 date.
Defense Dept. Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the White House is still “aiming toward the end of the month” for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Airmen welcome Afghanistan evacuees arriving at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait on Monday. (U.S. Army Photo by 1st Lt. James Mason/DVIDS)
“We continue to make progress every day in getting Americans – as well as Special Immigrant Visa applicants and vulnerable Afghans – out,” he said. “We remain committed to getting any and all Americans that want to leave, to get them out. We still believe – certainly now that we have been able to increase the capacity and the flow – we believe that we have the ability to get that done by the end of the month.”
The Pentagon also said the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will go to “zero” at the Aug. 31 deadline.
In addition to the 6,000 U.S. troops at Kabul’s airport, there are dozens of armored vehicles and U.S. Army Apache gunships.
Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group will accept “no extensions” of the Aug. 31 deadline, the Associated Press reports.
Senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot, who visited Afghanistan multiple times, on the Taliban takeover.
Mujahid also claimed he is “not aware” of any meeting between Burns and Baradar, but did not deny that such a meeting took place, the AP added.
Biden is expected to speak about Afghanistan today following a meeting with a Group of 7 leaders about the crisis.
“Today, President Biden met virtually with G7 leaders to discuss a continuation of our close coordination on Afghanistan policy, humanitarian assistance, and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans,” the White House said in a tweet.