On Monday, CIA Director privately met with the Taliban leader in Kabul, making the most distinguished in-person meeting between the Taliban and the Biden administration since insurgents took control of the capital.
A secret meeting between CIA Director and Taliban Leader happened on Monday
The meeting was first reported by the Washington Post. It took place as the United States continues to safeguard and evacuate Americans that are still left in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan allies who have been helping the U.S. before the country fell to the Taliban.
CIA Director William Burns secretly met with the Taliban's deputy leader in Kabul on Monday, two US officials tell CNN https://t.co/RE1Lq9wsef
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 24, 2021
On the other hand, UK, France, and Germany all announced the extension of the August 31 deadline to withdraw troops, in order to bring an “orderly” exit from Afghanistan.
France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian said that they are concerned about the August 31 deadline set by the United States. He added that the ongoing operations need additional time to be completed.
Ben Wallace, the UK Defense Secretary, likewise noted that the position of the British government is to stay longer if possible. Wallace, however, noted that it seems highly unlikely for the U.S. to extend their timeline.
Wallace then emphasized that it seems highly unlikely for the deadline to be extended because of the public statements that Biden has been making.
During the press briefing on Monday, the Pentagon noted that they will consider leaving U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the August 31 deadline. However, they dismissed the plan of taking back the Bagram Airfield in order to expedite the evacuation process.
Taliban warned American of the “consequences” if the current August 31 deadline is extended
On the other hand, the Taliban is announcing their unwillingness to extend the August 31 deadline, as well as the “occupation” of the United States. The group likewise sent a warning to Biden of the “consequences” if the current deadline ends up being extended.
U.S. adds planes to Afghan airlift as Taliban warns of "consequences" if withdrawal deadline is missed https://t.co/r1xGTlAWtB
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 23, 2021
Meanwhile, the United States has been trying to boost the evacuation efforts in the past few days; they are relocating around 21,600 people out of the war-torn country within 24 hours, which ended early morning on Tuesday. The operation was described by a senior U.S. official as “historic” in scope and in scale.
According to General Stephen Lyons (the person in charge of the Transportation Command of the U.S.), every 48 minutes, a C-17 is leaving Kabul.
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, noted that the development in Afghanistan is made with the cooperation from the Taliban. Kirby added that going forward and by far, constant coordination with the Taliban insurgents is required.
The Pentagon spokesperson added that what they have seen is that the deconfliction “worked well” when it comes to allowing the flow and passage of people; it also decreases the overall size of the crowd waiting outside of the airport.