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August 23, 2021 10:42 am

France Says Time Needed Beyond Aug. 31 for Afghan Evacuations

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivers remarks at the unveiling of a model of the Statue of Liberty at the French Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C., U.S., July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

France is concerned about the Aug. 31 deadline set by the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, with more time needed to complete evacuations, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday.

US President Joe Biden has said US troops might stay beyond Aug. 31 to oversee the evacuations. But a Taliban leadership official said foreign forces had not sought an extension — which would not be granted if they had.

“We are concerned about the Aug. 31 deadline set by the United States. More time is needed to complete the current operations,” Le Drian said, according to a French pool reporter accompanying the minister to the United Arab Emirates.

French planes have so far evacuated more than 1,000 Afghans through Abu Dhabi where Paris has a military base, the ministry said earlier.

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Le Drian, who was accompanied by Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, said the main concern remained access to Kabul airport.

“We still need to increase our coordination locally with the United States and our partners there,” he said.

Crowds have thronged Kabul airport desperate to flee the country every day since Taliban militants took the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.

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