UK: Afghanistan evacuation deadline unlikely to be extended
An official for the United Kingdom said the United States is unlikely to extend its Aug. 31 deadline for ending the Afghanistan conflict and evacuating people from the country, despite increasing pressure to do so.
“I think it is unlikely,” British Defense Minister Ben Wallace told Sky News, according to Reuters. “Not only because of what the Taliban has said but also if you look at the public statements of President Biden.”
“We’re not going to get everybody out,” he added.
The U.S. is engaged in a furious effort to remove U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from the country after the Taliban’s surprisingly quick takeover. President Biden on Sunday said there had been discussions to extend the Aug. 31 deadline, and the issue is expected to come up Tuesday during a virtual call among leaders of the Group of 7 large-economy countries.
The Taliban is adamant that the deadline not be extended.
Wallace highlighted the dangers staying in Afghanistan could cause as the Taliban is ready for troops to leave.
“If that airport gets attacked then effectively it closes down, mortar fire onto the runway etc, and then you are left with a very big humanitarian problem,” Wallace stated.
Wallace said British troops will not stay unless U.S. troops stay while noting the British might look for other allies in future operations.
“It may actually be more in our interest to join with other partners and we must have a force that is much more able to be interoperable as opposed to dependent,” he said.
Wallace’s comments come after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will work with the Taliban if necessary “to find a solution for Afghanistan.” Johnson previously stated the Taliban should not be recognized as the government of the country.
The U.K. and other European countries reportedly sent armed teams into Kabul last week to help evacuate citizens from their own countries.