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Taliban stick to August 31 deadline for foreign forces exit

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid holds 2nd news conference in Kabul. The Taliban on Tuesday said the group does not intend to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for the exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

In his second press conference since the group’s takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave.

“We will not be extending (August) 31st deadline. They (US) can take all the people who belong to them. We are not going to let Afghans leave,” he said in the briefing in the Afghan capital, which was streamed live by international media.

Under the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha last February, the US-led foreign forces were supposed to leave the war-torn country by May 31 this year, which was later unilaterally extended until Aug. 31 by US President Joe Biden.

The “bloodless” takeover has triggered a wave of Afghans rushing to Kabul airport to leave the country. Foreign missions are evacuating their citizens, diplomats as well as some Afghan forces who worked for them.

But the group has urged Afghan nationals to go home, saying life is returning to normal.

The Taliban spokesperson also asked the US “not (to) encourage our doctors, engineers and educated elite” to leave Afghanistan.

On a question if female workers in Afghanistan are facing problems, Mujahid asked them “to stay home until security allows.”

The spokesman also refused to confirm whether Taliban co-founder Ghani Baradar, who recently arrived in the country after 20 years, met CIA Director William Burns. The Washington Post has claimed that Burns held a secret meeting with Baradar on Monday.

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