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Biden says move out of Afghanistan could be extended beyond Aug. 31

President Biden speaks at a news conference at the White House on Aug. 22. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of Kabul’s airport. It is Hamid Karzai International Airport, not Kabul International Airport. The article has been corrected.

President Biden said Sunday that he is having “discussions” about extending the deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which had been scheduled for Aug. 31.

The United States and its partners have evacuated nearly 28,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, including 11,000 this weekend, Biden said during a Sunday news conference at the White House.

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He said U.S.-led forces have expanded the perimeter of and “increased access” to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where people await clearance to board flights as they seek to flee an Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban, which took control of the country last weekend. The Taliban has been “cooperative in extending the perimeter,” Biden said.

“The Taliban has not taken action against U.S. forces” since it overran the Afghan capital, the president said, adding that a local cell of the Islamic State militant group could “seek to exploit” the chaos.

Biden said last month that the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan would end Aug. 31, but he said Sunday that the Taliban’s takeover may force that date to be pushed back.

In his news conference, Biden thanked refugee support groups and others who were helping to rescue and acclimate people who had fled Afghanistan in recent days, and he stressed that those leaving the country would be vetted.

“Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check,” Biden said, reiterating that planes would not fly directly between Kabul and U.S. airports.

Nearly 20 years of war, 10 days to fall: Afghanistan, by the numbers

Here’s what to know

  • Seven Afghan civilians, including a toddler, were killed outside the Kabul airport.
  • Abdul Ghani Baradar, considered the Taliban’s top political leader, arrived in Kabul over the weekend as the Islamist group eyes the formation of a new government.
  • Afghans in airport hangars in Qatar and elsewhere are beginning to ponder their next steps now that they’re out of the country.