A Taliban spokesman on Tuesday said the U.S. must complete its evacuation of people from Afghanistan by the August 31 date the President Joe Biden-administration set for the withdrawal of all American troops.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his group will accept “no extensions” to the deadline. He says life is returning to normal in the country but chaos at the airport remains a problem. Many Afghans are desperate to flee the Taliban takeover of the country.
Earlier in the day, the director of the CIA met with the Taliban’s top political leader in Kabul, an official said, as more reports emerged of abuses in areas held by the fighters, fueling concerns about Afghanistan’s future and the fate of those racing to leave the country before the looming U.S. withdrawal.
A Taliban spokesman dashed hopes that an American-led evacuation could continue beyond an Aug. 31 deadline to allow more time for Western powers to get their citizens and vulnerable Afghans out of the country.
Recent days have seen a flurry of efforts to speed the chaotic operation at Kabul’s airport, where scenes of desperation have highlighted both the disarray of the American pullout and fears that the Taliban will again impose a brutal rule.
While details of William Burns’ discussion with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday were not released, the meeting represents an extraordinary moment for a CIA that for two decades targeted the Taliban in paramilitary operations. And it gives a sense of the extent of the wrangling happening ahead of the end of America’s two-decade war in the country.