Extension of Afghanistan evacuation deadline unlikely, says Wallace

It is unlikely the deadline to evacuate people from Afghanistan will be extended beyond 31 August, the defence secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told BBC Breakfast the UK would like more time and “every day we get after that would be a big bonus”.

But the Taliban has said any extension would be a “clear violation” of its deal with the US.

The US is being pressed by other countries to delay its withdrawal of troops.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask US President Joe Biden for an extension of the 31 August deadline when he chairs a virtual G7 meeting this afternoon.

Mr. Johnson will call for an increase in aid and promise “to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever” to protect human rights in the country.

The UK, France, and Germany have all raised the possibility of US forces staying beyond the end of August to continue the airlift, and reports suggest Mr. Biden will decide within the next 24 hours whether to push back the deadline.

However, a Pentagon spokesman said America’s focus remained “getting this done by the end of the month”.

More than 7,000 people have now been flown out of Kabul on RAF flights since 13 August – but UK ministers have been clear that British forces in Kabul cannot stay once the US has left.

Asked if there was any chance the 31 August deadline for US troops to leave could be extended, Mr. Wallace said: “I wish we had more time. I think at the moment it is unlikely.”

“We have to plan on 31 August being the last moment. Every day we get after that would be a big bonus,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“Everyone knows that the rest of the international community wishes to have more time but there are two other people with a vote in that – that is the Taliban and the president of the United States. And in the end, both of them have significant power in that final decision,” he added.


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