France and Germany Urge US to Extend Evacuation Deadline from Afghanistan
The French and German foreign ministers are discussing the prospect of prolonging the evacuation process of Afghan nationals and collaborators beyond the deadline.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged US President Joe Biden on Monday to extend the deadline for completing Afghan evacuations, a day after Biden hinted that the US presence at Kabul airport could be prolonged beyond August 31.
While in the UAE, Le Drian informed journalists that the French army set up an air bridge in the Emirates towards Kabul.
As chaos continues at Kabul airport, Le Drian stressed the need to coordinate with the US and its partners in Afghanistan.
The French ambassador in Kabul: The airport doors are closed
The French Ambassador in Kabul, David Martinon, updated the two ministers on the situation at Kabul Airport via video conference.
He explained that entrance doors to the airport were closed, as the northern gate has been shut for 30 hours while convoys could no longer travel through the eastern gate since it is impenetrable. The southern gate is partially open, but the passage is extremely restricted.
Defense Minister Florence Barley stressed that her country did not wait until August 15 to begin preparing for an evacuation.
German Foreign Ministry: We are negotiating with the Taliban to keep the airport accessible
German Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, stated at a press conference in Berlin that leaders of the G7 countries must coordinate evacuation efforts from Kabul. He disclosed that the topic will be discussed at the G7 summit tomorrow.
He said that his country is in talks with NATO allies and the Taliban about keeping the Kabul airport operational after August 31 in order to evacuate as many Afghans as possible.
The Minister considered that the situation has become increasingly dangerous, in light of tens of thousands of people crowding at the airport in an effort to escape the country.
Mass has called on people to only go accompanied to the airport, as it cannot be guaranteed that they will reach the military section, where evacuation flights are supervised by NATO.
Mass added that Germany is in talks with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and India over the Afghans who left through the land ports.
Berlin has asked these countries to allow Afghans who are entitled to leave to go to German embassies to submit applications. In addition, the embassy staff was instructed to expedite application processing.
The Pentagon: 16,00 people evacuated within 24 hours
The Pentagon announced that 16,000 people were evacuated through Kabul airport during the last 24 hours.
General Hank Taylor of the US Army Staff reported that 61 military, commercial, and charter flights transported evacuees among whom 11,000 were transported through US military air operations.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby explained that the total number of people transferred from Afghanistan has increased to 42,000 since July, and 37,000 since the massive air evacuations began on August 14.
Kirby would not rule out prolonging the US withdrawal from Afghanistan beyond the current deadline.
It was previously reported that US President Joe Biden, in an interview with ABC, indicated that the US forces will remain in Afghanistan until the last American is evacuated, even if that meant extending their mission beyond August 31.
“If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay till we get them all out,” he said.