Taliban vehemently kick against evacuation deadline extension, assures citizens’ safety

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Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers said on Tuesday they wanted all foreign evacuations from the country completed by an Aug. 31 deadline and they would not agree to an extension.

The hardline Islamist group sought to assure the thousands of Afghans crowded into Kabul airport in the hope of boarding flights they had nothing to fear and should go home.

“We guarantee their security,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in the capital, which Taliban fighters seized on Aug. 15.

As he spoke, Western troops were working frantically to get foreigners and Afghans onto planes and out of the country. U.S. President Joe Biden faced growing pressure to negotiate more time for the airlift.

Chaos punctuated by sporadic violence has gripped the airport following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – were due to meet virtually later on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

CIA Director William Burns met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday, two U.S. sources told Reuters.

The Taliban’s Mujahid said the group had not agreed to an extension of the deadline and it wanted all foreign evacuations to be completed by Aug. 31.

He also called on the United States not to encourage Afghan people to leave their homeland.

The Taliban wanted to resolve the situation through dialogue, he said, and he urged foreign embassies not to close or stop work.

“We have assured them of security,” he said.