US lawmakers urge Biden to extend August 31 Afghanistan withdrawal deadline

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Washington [US], August 25 (ANI): As US President Joe Biden decided to stick with the August 31 deadline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, several lawmakers including Democrats and Republicans have called Biden to push back the deadline as the move risked leaving US allies behind.

"There has been and remains an overwhelming bipartisan consensus that this cannot be done by August 31," Representative Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served as a senior State Department official during the Obama administration, said following a classified briefing for House lawmakers, The Hill reported.

During a briefing with President Joe Biden's top national security officials Tuesday -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines -- lawmakers urged the officials to try to convince Biden that the evacuation efforts should extend beyond the end of the month.

Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said Biden should hear the message from a "large bipartisan group of members" to reconsider the said deadline.

"There was bipartisan support for extending the August 31 deadline including applause when that was raised and a strong feeling that we wanted the cabinet secretaries in the room to advocate vicariously with the president to that end," she said.

Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), echoed that he wanted top Biden aides to push the president to back off the end of the month deadline.

"I want him [Biden] to listen to his advisers," Smith said, The Hill further reported.

After a briefing from the intelligence community, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters that he didn't see how it was possible to complete the evacuation by the deadline.

"I think it's very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders women leaders. It's hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month," Schiff, a California Democrat, said.

Meanwhile, Taliban gave an ultimatum stating that American forces should exit the country by August 31, local media reported.

"The US should leave the country by August 31st," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said during a press conference in Kabul today as cited by Tolo News.

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden tweeted that he stands by the commitment to evacuate people and this includes vulnerable Afghans, such as women leaders and journalists after the Taliban's hostile takeover of Afghanistan.

Two days ago, Biden had informed that he is in discussions with his military officials regarding the extension of the evacuation mission in Afghanistan, beyond the August 31 deadline.

The US is flying thousands of people out of Afghanistan every day from Kabul airport. The US forces took control of the airport last week to evacuate its citizens after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.

In total, the White House says US efforts have facilitated the evacuation of approximately 58,700 people since August 14, and 63,900 since the end of July.

Approximately 1,000 Afghans have arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, in the last 24 hours, according to the Pentagon. (ANI)

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