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POTUS Says US-Led Evacuation From Afghanistan is ‘Accelerating’

President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the U.S.-led evacuation of Americans, at-risk Afghans, and others from the Kabul airport accelerated this weekend, although it remains vulnerable to threats posed by the Islamic State extremist group one week after the Taliban completed its takeover of Afghanistan by capturing Kabul.

The President said discussions are underway among military officials about potentially extending the airlift beyond his original August 31st deadline. “Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are discussions,” he said, suggesting the possibility that the Taliban will be consulted. Since August 14th, one day before the Taliban entered Kabul, the airlift has evacuated 28,000 people, President Biden said. He did not elaborate, but that number appeared to include not just U.S. military flights but also charter and non-U.S. military flights.

 

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Speaking at the White House, Biden said 11,000 people had been airlifted from Kabul in a 36-hour period this weekend, but he did not provide details. The number appeared to include flights by charter and non-U.S. military aircraft as well as the U.S. Air Force C-17 and C-130 transport planes that have been flying daily from the capital. Tens of thousands of people remain to join the airlift, which has been slowed by security issues and U.S. bureaucracy hurdles.

President Biden asserted that U.S. forces have managed to improve access to the airport for Americans and others seeking to get on flights. He suggested that the perimeter had been extended, widening a “safe zone.”

“What I’m not going to do is talk about the technical changes we’re making to make sure we maintain as much security as we can,” he said. “We have constantly, how can I say, increased rational access to the airport, where more folks can get there, more safely. It is still a dangerous operation but I don’t want to go into the detail of how we’re doing that.”

Later Biden added: “We discussed a lot with the Taliban. They’ve been cooperative in extending some of the perimeters.”



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