Canada will remain in Afghanistan past the US deadline of Aug. 31 if possible, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
“We’re going to continue to work every single day to get as many people out alongside our allies,” he said during an election campaign stop in Hamilton, Ontario. “The commitment by our fellow G7 nations is clear: we’re all going to work together to save as many people as possible.”
His remarks came despite US President Joe Biden’s refusal to keep American troops in the beleaguered county after month’s end, even though he was urged to do so at a G7 virtual meeting Tuesday.
America has by far the most military personnel in Afghanistan, and other countries depend on the US presence. There is chaos at Kabul airport as countries try to airlift out Afghans who helped the US and its allies during the two-decade-long stay in Afghanistan, including drivers, cooks and interpreters.
Reports say that some G7 countries, including France and the UK, were pushing for an extension on the US deadline due to the rapid advance of the Taliban and its takeover of the country.
But in the end, the US president said no, possibly because the Americans and the Taliban had agreed that the US would quit Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
Thousands of Afghans are outside Kabul airport, desperately trying to be evacuated because they fear the Taliban will brand them as traitors and kill them because they helped the allies. About a dozen countries are attempting to evacuate the threatened Afghans and their families.
Trudeau said the Taliban’s takeover would mean evaluating Canadian aid dollars to Afghanistan.
“That is absolutely something we’re looking at right now, obviously, with the Taliban in control of the country,” he said. “Our regular aid, investments and agencies need to be looked at carefully to make sure we are not supporting, indirectly, the Taliban.”
Thousands have been evacuated from about a dozen countries to date. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as of last week Turkey had flown out about 550 citizens.
The US had evacuated 48,000 people as of Aug. 23. Canada airlifted out 500 on Monday, Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan tweeted.
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