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Afghan Bombings Have Not Changed Biden’s Withdrawal Plans, Source Says

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• August 26, 2021 12:47 pm

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) — There was no indication from the White House on Thursday that President Joe Biden plans to change the Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal target after twin explosions at the Kabul airport, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Biden was meeting with his top national security advisers in the White House Situation Room as reports of the blasts, which he and other officials have been warning about, were made public.

Biden, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley, and Vice President Kamala Harris monitored events in Afghanistan via video links in the secure room, in a meeting that lasted well over two hours.

The bombings, which caused multiple casualties outside the Kabul airport, forced Biden to postpone—at least until later in the day—his first face-to-face meeting with Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett.

Biden canceled a meeting with a bipartisan group of state governors about temporarily housing or helping resettle Afghan refugees being flown out of Afghanistan.

Biden "will continue to be briefed on updates on the evolving situation throughout the day," the White House said.

Biden on Tuesday said the United States was on pace to finish its pullout by Aug. 31. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said as of now there were no changes to that timeline.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Trevor Hunnicutt and Nandita Bose; Editing by Heather Timmons)