Taliban want US presence in Kabul: US officials

The Taliban have asked the United States to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul after the American pullout but Washington has yet to decide on its plans, US officials said Friday.

Afghanistan’s new hardline Islamist rulers want countries to keep their embassies open after the evacuation mission wraps on August 31, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

After the Taliban takeover on August 15, the remaining diplomats from the US embassy fled to the US-secured airport in Kabul.

But the US military is scheduled to leave Kabul Tuesday under the deadline set and insisted on by President Joe Biden. So if Biden kept a presence in Kabul there would be no soldiers to protect diplomats.

In these conditions, and with the US far from recognizing a government run by the Taliban, a continuing US diplomatic presence in Kabul is a big question mark.

This issue is being debated within the administration, the US officials said.

They said the safety of US officials is the top priority and a decision might be announced early next week, immediately before the withdrawal is completed.

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