France says time needed beyond Aug. 31 for Afghan evacuations

·1-min read
A model of the Statue of Liberty is unveiled at the French Ambassador’s residence in U.S.

PARIS (Reuters) - France is concerned about the Aug. 31 deadline set by the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, with more time needed to complete evacuations, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said U.S. troops might stay beyond Aug. 31 to oversee the evacuations. But a Taliban leadership official said foreign forces had not sought an extension - which would not be granted if they had.

"We are concerned about the Aug. 31 deadline set by the United States. More time is needed to complete the current operations," Le Drian said, according to a French pool reporter accompanying the minister to the United Arab Emirates.

French planes have so far evacuated more than 1,000 Afghans through Abu Dhabi where Paris has a military base, the ministry said earlier.

Le Drian, who was accompanied by Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, said the main concern remained access to Kabul airport.

"We still need to increase our coordination locally with the United States and our partners there," he said.

Crowds have thronged Kabul airport desperate to flee the country every day since Taliban militants took the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.

(Writing by John Irish; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Macfie)

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