President Joe Biden will address the nation Sunday on the mounting crisis in Afghanistan and Tropical Storm Henri, which struck the East Coast earlier in the day.
Biden has been under increasing pressure since ordering US troops to pull out of Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation, sparking a swift takeover by the Taliban and stranding thousands of American citizens and US allies at the airport in Kabul.
On Sunday morning, Biden met with national security officials for an update on the situation, the White House said in a statement.
“They discussed the security situation and counterterrorism operations, including ISIS-K,” it said. “The national security team discussed the ongoing and intensive diplomatic and military efforts to facilitate transit at third-country transit hubs, affirming the importance of the contributions that more than two dozen partner nations are making to this global effort.”
Administration officials said 7,800 people have been evacuated from the airport in the Afghan capital in the past day. Military officials said earlier that 17,000 had been evacuated in the past week, including 2,500 US citizens.
Nonetheless, thousands remain in Kabul desperate to flee the Taliban, including US citizens and Afghans who assisted during the two-decade military presence.
Earlier on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Loyd Austin said on ABC’s “This Week” that there had been “no good options” once the decision to withdraw was made.
Austin said estimates had been that US-trained Afghan forces would hold out as long as two years — but they collapsed in a matter of days.
Meanwhile, Biden is also due to address the impact of Tropical Storm Henri.
States of emergencies were declared in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island ahead of the storm, which smacked into the Northeast on Sunday.
Henri, which barrelled off the coast of Montauk as a Category 1 hurricane late Saturday, made landfall in Rhode Island as a tropical storm shortly after midday Sunday with sustained winds of 60 mph and gusts up to 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is pummeling the region with heavy rains and storm surges.