Biden seeks ways to speed up evacuations from Afghanistan

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about Afghanistan at the White House in Washington
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By Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris discussed ways to accelerate evacuations of Americans and refugees from Afghanistan with his national security team on Wednesday, a White House official said.

With the Taliban having taken control of Afghanistan in the past week the evacuation of thousands https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/bidens-vow-airlift-afghan-allies-meets-ticking-clock-risky-rescue-2021-08-17 of U.S. diplomatic personnel and civilians as well as Afghan citizens who worked with the United States government is much more difficult.

Biden was forced to send U.S. troop reinforcements to Kabul to help with the evacuations. He has received a barrage of criticism at home and abroad for the way the American withdrawal from Afghanistan to end its 20-year long war there was planned.

Biden and Harris met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

They discussed efforts to accelerate evacuations of U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans, and to facilitate safe passage to Kabul airport, a White House official said.

They also discussed monitoring for any potential terrorist threats in Afghanistan, the official said.

At least three people were killed in anti-Taliban protests in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, witnesses said https://reut.rs/2Uul6gn, as the militant group moved to set up a government and Western countries stepped up evacuations of diplomats and civilians.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)

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