President Joe Biden’s CIA Director William Burns met with the Taliban’s leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Kabul Monday one week ahead of the August 31 deadline for U.S. troops to complete the evacuation from Kabul, according to a source familiar with the situation, the Washington Post reported.
The White House is expected to make a decision on whether or not to extend the evacuation deadline by Tuesday, a U.S. defense official said, but a Taliban spokesperson told CBS News that an extension would amount to a “violation” of the commitment to withdraw.
“The response depends on the decision of our leadership,” the spokesperson added.
The meeting between Burns and Baradar comes after nearly 22,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan between Monday and Tuesday, including 12,700 evacuees on 37 military flights.
During a press briefing Tuesday morning shared on Twitter by Townhall, CNN’s Barbara Starr asked Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby if the Biden administration can “tell the American people how many Americans it has evacuated from Afghanistan.”
“Why can’t you just say the number?” Starr asked.
“We’re just going to leave it at several thousand,” Kirby responded. “And I understand that’s not a satisfying answer to you. I would tell you that the number literally changes almost by the hour.”
“But so does everything else,” Starr added.
“I understand, Barbara,” Kirby said. “We’re going to leave it at several thousand for right now.”
Also on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the terrorist organization would accept “no extensions” to the August 31 deadline set by President Biden to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“This was already not according to their agreement,” Mujahid said, referring to a prior agreement brought forth under President Donald Trump, that set May 1 as the U.S. troop withdrawal deadline.
“They have opportunity. They have all the resources. They can take all the people that belong to them,” Mujahid said. “We are not going to allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline.”
In July, Biden set August 31 as the deadline for the end of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, however, last week Biden said U.S. troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond August 31 to facilitate the evacuations of any U.S. citizens still remaining in Afghanistan.
“If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last Wednesday.