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Taliban warn of consequences should West extend troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 31 August

The Taliban have warned that they would oppose any extension of the foreign military presence in Afghanistan beyond 31 August, adding that any attempt by Washington or London to keep troops in the Central Asian country past that deadline would have consequences.

Speaking to Sky News in Doha, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said the group would not agree to an extension request, even if this were for the purpose of continuing the evacuation of civilians.

“This is something you can say is a red line. [US] President [Joe] Biden announced this agreement that [on] 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it, that means they are extending the occupation while there is no need for that,” said Shaheen, adding that such a move would deteriorate relations and “create mistrust between us”.

“If they are intent on continuing the occupation, this will provoke a reaction,” he warned.

The spokesperson also dismissed reports that the thousands of Afghans who are trying to flee the country are doing so for fear of retaliation by the Taliban. Instead, he claimed the reason behind this is that many Afghans want to relocate to Western countries for economic reasons.

“This is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people in Afghanistan live under the line of poverty. So, everyone wants to resettle in Western countries to have a prosperous life.”

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