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Biden asks Pentagon for emergency plan if deadline is not met | Abroad

While the world waited for his explanation, Biden’s speech was postponed several times. His response finally came five hours later than initially planned. The White House gave no explanation. Biden also did not answer questions from the media present. He first spoke for minutes about the House of Representatives passing the budget, a domestic success for Biden. Only then did it turn to the foreign problem: Afghanistan.

Biden said the US is on track to withdraw all military personnel by August 31. But he also said he has asked the Pentagon to prepare a contingency plan in case the deadline is not met. Then the US military must be ready to “adjust the schedule if necessary.”

It remains unclear how Biden intends to tackle this. The Taliban reiterated earlier in the day that a longer stay of the American troops is not an option for them. A spokesperson previously called the August 31 date threatening “a red line.”

The president emphasized that the risk of an attack or other violence is increasing. The Americans take into account actions by the Afghan branch of IS. “Those risks are real,” Biden said. It therefore remains important to get out of Kabul quickly. “Every day there means more risks for our troops.”

Whether the Americans meet the deadline depends on the cooperation of the Taliban, Biden said. “It depends on whether the Taliban continues to give evacuees access to the airport and whether they do not disrupt our operation.” The Taliban previously said it would no longer allow Afghans to enter Kabul airport. Biden did not comment on that.

In practice, sticking to the deadline means that the withdrawal of the 5,800 American soldiers must start on Friday. According to US media, a small group of non-essential soldiers have already been recalled. Until Friday, every effort will be made to evacuate as many people as possible.

Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, among others, would have liked the Americans to have stayed longer. The countries think it will take longer to evacuate everyone. In the US, too, there is doubt that everyone will be gone before August 31. Democrats and Republicans have also urged Biden to move the deadline. More than 70,000 people have been evacuated since August 14, Biden said.

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