G7 to discuss extension of Aug. 31 deadline in Afghanistan as US accelerates pace of evacuations

Leaders of the Group of Seven countries were due to discuss Tuesday whether to seek an extension of the August 31 deadline for the evacuation of thousands of people trying to flee Afghanistan and whether to recognize or sanction a Taliban government. Follow our live page for the latest news.

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7:00 Paris time (GMT + 2)

G7 to meet on Afghan deadline

The leaders of the Group of Seven countries are ready to discuss whether to seek an extension of the August 31 deadline for the evacuation of thousands of people trying to flee Afghanistan and whether to recognize or sanction a Taliban government.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday will chair emergency online talks with G7 counterparts (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States) on the Afghanistan crisis, and the race to evacuate those who fleeing Kabul is the top item on the agenda.

But Johnson also said leaders of the world’s major economies should be on the lookout for Afghanistan’s “next phase” once the high-risk pullout is complete.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Monday that Johnson “would try to raise the possibility of seeing whether the United States will extend” the deadline for evacuations from Afghanistan, a move the Taliban have warned would have “consequences.”

France has said more time is needed, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that the G7 must consider whether to stay beyond August 31.

Widespread chaos marked by sporadic violence has gripped Kabul airport since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on August 15, with Western and Afghan forces driving back crowds desperate to flee.

The evacuations were being carried out “on the warpath” as foreign forces try to meet the August 31 deadline, a NATO diplomat told Reuters on Tuesday.

Thousands of Afghans have returned home after learning that the situation is “relatively calm” in provinces across the country, said the diplomat, who asked not to be named, while warning that scant intelligence and security reports they came from remote districts.

US President Joe Biden, who has said US troops could stay past the deadline, warned that the evacuation would be “tough and painful” and that a lot could still go wrong. US Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters after a briefing on Afghanistan by intelligence officials that he did not believe the evacuation could be completed in the eight days. remaining.

“I think it is possible, but I think it is highly unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated,” Schiff said.

A Taliban official said foreign forces had not requested an extension and that it would not be granted if they had. Washington said negotiations were continuing.

The US military carried out its biggest day of evacuation flights out of Afghanistan by far on Monday. Twenty-eight US military flights transported about 10,400 people to safety outside of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan over a 24-hour period ending early Monday, and 15 C-17 flights over the next 12 hours took out another 6,660, officials said. White House. Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby said the faster pace of the evacuation was due in part to coordinating with Taliban commanders to get evacuees to the airport.

Marios Sofos from Jowharbrings us a summary of Monday’s events:

06:05 Paris time (GMT + 2)

NATO official: Kabul evacuations are carried out on a ‘war footing’

The evacuation is being carried out on a “war footing” at Kabul airport as foreign forces try to meet the August 31 deadline to leave Afghanistan, a NATO diplomat told Reuters on Tuesday.

Taliban officials have been briefed on the evacuation and logistics process at the airport, the NATO official said. The official said that while the situation outside the airport was relatively calm, better crowd management was still required.

04:20 Paris time (GMT + 2)

Panjshir people are ready to respond to ‘any aggression’, spokesman for the Afghanistan National Resistance Front tells FRANCE 24

Ali Maisam Nazary, a spokesman for the Washington DC-based Afghanistan National Resistance Front, told FRANCE 24’s Mark Owen that the Panjshir resistance is ready to fight the Taliban if no political agreement is reached.

“If constructive negotiations are not carried out and an inclusive government is not formed, resistance is inevitable. No one is going to give up, ”said Nazary, representing the movement led by Ahmad Massoud, son of the legendary Afghan resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Nazary recalled the region’s successful resistance against Soviet occupation and the Taliban regime in the late 1990s.

“The people of Panjshir throughout history have shown that they are ready to defend their land, their region, their people,” he said. “Whether it’s during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s or the aggression of the Taliban in the 1990s, we resist … we do it at the end of the day.”

For now, he said, “the situation in Panjshir is stable. There have been no attacks yet, ”although Taliban fighters are reportedly stationed nearby.

Ultimately, Nazary said lasting peace in Afghanistan will depend on creating a more decentralized form of government, reflecting the diverse ethnic makeup of the country.

“We believe that in a country made up of ethnic minorities, there is no majority in Afghanistan, power should be distributed equally throughout the country. It cannot be concentrated and centralized in Kabul. “

03:05 Paris time (GMT + 2)

US House of Representatives intelligence committee chairman says US ‘unlikely’ to meet August 31 deadline

US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, speaking to reporters Monday after a briefing by intelligence officials, said he believes the evacuation from Afghanistan is highly unlikely to be completed. by the August 31 deadline.

“I think it is possible, but I think it is highly unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated,” Schiff said.

( Jowharwith AFP, AP, REUTERS)

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