"We are currently on a pace to finish by August the 31st." U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday held firm on his end-of-August deadline to withdraw completely from Afghanistan, as the threat of militant attacks on American forces mounted.
But he left open the chance of the deadline being extended.
"I've asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable should that become necessary."
Biden also emphasized that each day on the ground in Afghanistan brings added risk to U.S. troops from an attack by an Islamic State affiliate.
"The longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, which is a sworn enemy of the Taliban as well, every day that we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians."
Biden also said he also spoke with leaders of the G7 nations on Tuesday, telling them that completing evacuations by month's end is dependent on continued cooperation with the country's new Taliban rulers, who demanded that all foreign evacuations be done by that date.The developments follow what two U.S. officials said was a meeting between CIA Director William Burns and Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday to discuss the chaos in Afghanistan after the Taliban's unexpectedly swift takeover.
The hardline Islamist Taliban had told thousands of Afghans crowding into Kabul airport in the hope of boarding flights that they had nothing to fear and should go home. But, in a press conference Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman said Afghans will not be allowed to leave.
Meanwhile, THE U.N.'s human rights chief said she had received credible reports of executions of civilians and Afghan security forces who had surrendered. The Taliban has said it will investigate such reports.