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Taliban won’t extend Aug. 31 deadline for Western forces to leave, UK to push Biden for Afghan deadline extension

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The Taliban will not extend an Aug. 31 deadline for Western forces to leave Afghanistan, two sources in the Islamist group told Reuters on Monday.

The sources, however, said no Western government or official had approached the Taliban to extend the deadline.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask U.S. President Joe Biden to extend the evacuation deadline from Afghanistan when Group of Seven leaders discuss the crisis on Tuesday, two UK ministers said.

James Heappey, minister for the armed forces, and James Cleverly, a foreign office minister, said Britain was pushing for the deadline to be pushed beyond Aug. 31 to increase the number of people it can help who want to flee the Taliban.

Heappey told Sky News around 4,000 people who were eligible to come to the United Kingdom were still in Afghanistan and the government wanted to evacuate thousands more if it could.

“The thing that I think we’ve all learnt over the last week or so is that the timelines around which we plan are not always completely in our own control,” Cleverly told the BBC late on Sunday. “Now obviously the more time that we’ve got, the more people we can evacuate and that’s what we’re pushing for.”

The Taliban seemed to be cooperating but Britain could not rely on that support lasting indefinitely, he said.

“So we are prioritising getting as many people out as quickly as possible. If we can buy more time that is great but I think that we shouldn’t be relying on the fact that we will get more time to do this,” Cleverly said.

Johnson will host a virtual meeting of leaders from the G7 group of advanced economies on Tuesday.

The British government is also seeking new sanctions against the Taliban. 

Foreign forces in Afghanistan have not sought to extend the Aug. 31 deadline they have set for leaving the country, a Taliban official told Reuters on Monday.

President Joe Biden said last week Biden says Aug. 31 deadline in Afghanistan might have to be extended that U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan past an Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate Americans.

Photo: A demonstration of solidarity with Afghanistan in front of the American consulate in Krakow, south Poland, 22 August 2021. EPA-EFE/Lukasz Gagulski

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