President Joe Biden said Tuesday he remains confident that the U.S. is on track to reach its Aug. 31 deadline of ending military involvement in Afghanistan and to complete evacuations before the end of the month.
Speaking from the White House, the president told reporters that the completion of the mission is largely dependent on cooperation from the Taliban. While voicing confidence that the U.S. is “on pace” to finish by the Aug. 31 deadline, he said military leaders are prepared to “adjust the timetable should that become necessary.”
“We are currently on pace to finish by Aug. 31. I am determined to complete our mission,” President Biden said Tuesday. “The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
The president told reporters that as of Tuesday, 70,700 people had been airlifted thus far in the evacuation effort. This effort has ramped up in recent days, with more than 12,000 evacuated out of Kabul over the course of 12 hours on Tuesday, President Biden said. The Pentagon on Tuesday said the pace of flights has increased to one every 45 minutes.
The president’s comments at the White House came hours after he met virtually with a group of leaders in the G7, who were prepared to apply pressure to extend the deadline for evacuation. The president, however, remained strong in his position of reaching the end of the month deadline, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“Our mission in Kabul will end based on the achievement of our objectives. He confirmed we are currently on pace to finish by Aug. 31,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement regarding the president’s conversation with the G7.
During the G7 meeting, leaders of the seven nations agreed to continue to back the efforts of the United Nations as the organization coordinates humanitarian aid in the region.