WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with their national security team to discuss security, diplomatic and intelligence updates in Afghanistan, according to a White House official.
“They discussed the status of operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), which continues to be secure and operational as a result of DOD’s efforts; our efforts to evacuate US citizens, Embassy personnel, SIV applicants and their families, and vulnerable Afghans as quickly as possible; and that every day we operate troops on the ground are at risk,” the White House official.
At today’s Situation Room meeting, the national security team updated the President and Vice President that the Department of Department (DOD) has evacuated 7,000 people since August 14 and 12,000 people since the end of July.
The President, Vice President, and their team also discussed their focus on monitoring for any potential terrorist threats in Afghanistan, including from ISIS-K, the official added.
The US President and Vice President met with Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, Director Haines, Director Burns, National Security Advisor Sullivan, Ambassador Wilson, General McKenzie, Admiral Vasely, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Finer, Homeland Security Advisor Sherwood-Randall, and other senior officials.
Earlier on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that there has been “no decision to change” the August 31 deadline to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan at this point.
During an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon, Kirby said, “We are focused on doing everything we can inside that deadline to move as many people out as possible”.
Biden says Taliban now in ‘existential crisis’
President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the Taliban have not changed but are going through an “existential crisis” about whether they want legitimacy on the global stage as they have taken over Afghanistan.
In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Biden said that he’s not sure the Taliban want to be recognised by the international community as being a legitimate government.
He also said that the threat from Al-Qaeda and their affiliate organisations is greater in other parts of the world than it is in Afghanistan, adding that it’s not rational to ignore the looming problems posed by Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria or East Africa, where he said the threat to the US is significantly greater.
“We should be focusing on where the threat is the greatest,” Biden said, in defense of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden also pushed back against concerns about the treatment of women and girls in the country, arguing that it’s not sane to try to protect women’s rights around the globe through military force.
“Instead, it should be done through diplomatic and international pressure on human rights abusers to change their behaviour.”
Biden had on Monday warned the Taliban not to disrupt or threaten the evacuation of thousands of American diplomats and Afghan translators at Kabul airport.
The response to any attack would be “swift and forceful”, Biden had said in a televised address from the White House.
He also defended the US pull-out, saying he stood by the policy and that it was time to leave after 20 years of conflict.
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he said.
The Taliban had declared the war in Afghanistan over on August 16 after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul.
“Now it’s time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life,” Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar had said in a video posted on social media.
Taliban ask imams to stop people from leaving
The Taliban have asked the imams to urge the Afghans to not leave the country during Friday’s sermon as the collapse of government and takeover by the terror group have forced people in Afghanistan to leave the nation, a media report said.
The Taliban have issued Friday sermon guidelines to imams and preachers across Afghanistan, telling them to urge citizens not to leave the country for fear or other reasons, Pakistan’s The News reported.
People in Afghanistan are in rush to leave the nation as the country’s government collapsed on Sunday soon after Ashraf Ghani left Kabul. The Taliban entered the presidential palace and announced its victory over the regime.
Efforts are being made to maintain stability in Afghanistan. However, people are rushing to the airport to flee the nation as they are afraid of the terror group’s brutal atrocities in the nation.
Countries from all across the world have been evacuating their citizens fastly as Afghanistan’s future is hanging in balance. The US State Department on Thursday said that it has airlifted more than 7,000 evacuees since Saturday.
The Taliban leaders are discussing future government plans in Afghanistan and are in touch with intra-Afghan parties. (ANI)