Taleban wants a US presence in Kabul: US officials

Taleban fighters wave their flag outside the US Embassy in Kabul, on Aug 22, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Taleban has asked the United States to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul after the American pullout but Washington has yet to decide on its plans, US officials said on Friday (Aug 27).

Afghanistan's new hardline Islamist rulers want countries to keep their embassies open after the evacuation mission wraps on Aug 31, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

After the Taleban takeover on Aug 15, the remaining diplomats from the US embassy fled to the US-secured airport in Kabul.

But the US military is scheduled to leave Kabul on Tuesday under the deadline set and insisted on by President Joe Biden. So if Biden kept a presence in Kabul, there would be no soldiers to protect diplomats.

In these conditions, and with the US far from recognising a government run by the Taleban, a continuing US diplomatic presence in Kabul is a big question mark.

This issue is being debated within the administration, the US officials said.

They said the safety of US officials is the top priority and a decision might be announced early next week, immediately before the withdrawal is completed.

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