Thursday, September 23, 2021

British defence secretary says Kabul evacuation extension ‘unlikely’

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U.S. President Joe Biden is “unlikely’’ to delay the departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan to allow more people to be evacuated.

British Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace conceded this, ahead of emergency talks.

The cabinet minister on Tuesday, warned that the security risk in Kabul got more and more dangerous everyday, as the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline loomed.

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson would host a virtual G7 summit afternoon, during which he was expected to press the U.S. President to keep his troops in the Afghan capital for longer.

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But the Taliban, which swept to power last week in the wake of America’s major withdrawal of troops, warned of consequences, if foreign forces remained past the deadline.

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Acknowledging that “we’re not going to get everybody out of the country,’’ Wallace dampened any hopes that the evacuation operation from Kabul airport, could continue past Aug. 31.

“I think it is unlikely. Not only because of what the Taliban says, but if you look at the public statements of President Biden, I think it is unlikely.

“It is definitely worth us all trying and we will,’’ he told Sky News.

Wallace insisted it would not be appropriate to try to secure Kabul airport with British troops, after the U.S. pulls out.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not about effectively whether I can fly in thousands of troops and secure the airport.

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“Yes, I can do that, I can probably secure the airport for a few months, or maybe a year or two.

“But for what purpose? For them to be shot at, attacked, people not to get to the airport and to trigger just a permanent fight? I don’t think that is a solution.’’

Britain had evacuated 8,600 people from Afghanistan in the past 10 days, including more than 2,000 in the previous 24 hours, according to figures given by the defence secretary.

dpa/NAN

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