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US says it is in touch with Taliban to coordinate Kabul evacuations

Afghan security guards stand on a wall as hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. (AP)
Afghan security guards stand on a wall as hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. (AP)

The Defense Department says US military commanders at the Kabul airport are in touch with Taliban leaders as they coordinate the evacuation effort of US citizens and Afghan allies.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tells reporters that necessary interactions with Taliban leaders will continue as the US evacuates people. He adds that there have been no new hostile encounters with Taliban fighters at the airport.

Asked whether US commanders had an agreement with the Taliban for safe passage to the airport of Afghan allies and others awaiting evacuation, Kirby says: “There are interactions at the airport, by our commanders, with the Taliban leaders” outside the airport.

Officials hope the pace of evacuations will pick up so that as many as 9,000 people could be taken out of the country each day. After their sweep into Kabul on Sunday and the takeover of the country, Taliban fighters are guarding Kabul airport’s entry points and gates.

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