British defence secretary says Kabul evacuation extension ‘unlikely’

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President Joe Biden of the United States has said that delaying the departure of US forces from Afghanistan to allow more people to be evacuated is “unlikely.”

Ben Wallace, the British Defence Secretary, admitted as much ahead of emergency discussions.

As the August 31 evacuation deadline drew, a cabinet minister warned on Tuesday that the security risk in Kabul was becoming increasingly serious.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, was set to convene a virtual G7 meeting in the afternoon, during which he was expected to press US President Barack Obama to maintain his forces in Kabul for longer.

However, the Taliban, who came to power last week following America’s significant troop pullout, warned of dire consequences if foreign forces stayed over the deadline.

Recognizing that “we won’t be able to get everyone out of the country,” Wallace shattered any expectations that the Kabul airport evacuation would be extended through August 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 newsmen.

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.

“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. 

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