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A Taliban spokesperson warned of “consequences” if the US kept troops in Afghanistan beyond its August 31 deadline hours after President Joe Biden said he could do exactly that. In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, the Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said: “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.” Shaheen’s statement came hours after Biden told a Sunday press conference that the US could extend the August 31 withdrawal deadline as efforts to evacuate thousands of US citizens and Afghans who have worked for Western nations continue.
Since August 14th, the U.S has evacuated about 17,000 people according to White House officials. Pentagon officials have said their focus remains on maintaining the airport perimeter and increasing the number of evacuees out of Kabul. President Joe Biden returned to Washington from Camp David on Wednesday and sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the White House, the president’s first interview since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He addressed the nation on evacuation efforts Friday and Sunday.