August 25, 2021
Amid criticism from U.S. allies over the chaotic withdrawal in Afghanistan and pressure to extend his August 31 deadline, President Joe Biden met virtually with G7 partners on Tuesday with just a week left to evacuate thousands of civilians and to pull out thousands of U.S. troop, ABC News reports.
At a press conference on Monday, August 23, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said leaders are meeting “to ensure the world’s leading democracies are aligned and united on the way forward,” adding, “We are working with partners to address the acute humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and we will remain persistently vigilant against the terrorism threat in Afghanistan and in multiple other theaters.”
According to ABC, as the deadline to evacuate looms, approximately 58,700 people have been evacuated from Kabul since August 14, when the Taliban took control of the government. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated approximately 63,900 people.
Officials have been vague when asked how many Americans still need to be evacuated, only saying that there are “thousands”—and blaming it on citizens not registering with the U.S. Embassy when they arrive or deregistering when they leave.
Adding to the scramble to evacuate, U.S. officials are also concerned about a possible attack from ISIS-K at the airport, looking to exploit the situation of the packed crowds outside trying to gain entrance.
The U.S. has been working at a lightning pace to speed up evacuations as Taliban leaders have said that August 31 is a “red line” for troops to leave and doubled-down during a Tuesday, August 24, morning press conference, saying they will reject any U.S. military presence or evacuations past the end of the month.
President Biden has said that U.S. troops will stay until every American and Afghan SIV applicant has been evacuated, which is directly at odds with the Taliban’s position.
Their firm stance on that deadline comes after CIA Director William Burns met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News—the highest level in-person meeting between a Biden administration official and the Taliban since the militant group took over Kabul.
“We are in talks with the Taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels,” Sullivan said Monday before the Burns meeting was reported.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden defended the withdrawal and said he didn’t think it could have been handled any better.
“I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look—but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happens,” he said.
The president also has conceded that the speed of which the Taliban took over the country was faster than expected.
The president has also spoken separately with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, among the G7 allies. He also has held calls with Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed.
Research contact: @abcnews