President Joe Biden’s bilateral meeting with Israel’s prime minister has been postponed after U.S. forces in Afghanistan were among the casualties of at least two bombings in Kabul.
Biden was scheduled to convene with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other Israeli officials at the White House at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 26.
The White House sent word shortly after the scheduled start time that the meeting was delayed. It later said the meeting will take place on Friday.
Biden was briefed on the Kabul bombings by his national security team, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, the White House said.
Other administration meetings and briefings were pushed back or canceled, including a Pentagon briefing, a White House COVID-19 team update, and a press conference from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
A video call that Biden was set to share with governors who want to welcome Afghan refugees to their states also was canceled.
Biden planned to speak with Bennett, his chief of staff, and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, among others, to convey the United States’ “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security and self-defense, a White House official told reporters earlier this week. But the bombs that went off in Kabul on Aug. 26 prompted a schedule change, creating an obstacle for the White House as it tries to complete evacuations from Afghanistan before its self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline.
An initial explosion at Abbey Gate at the U.S.-held airport in Afghanistan’s largest city was followed by at least one other a short distance away.
Twelve U.S. troops were killed and 15 others were wounded.
U.S. troops were rushed to Afghanistan in the middle of the month to secure the airport after the Taliban terrorist group made rapid gains against the U.S.-backed government, before toppling it all together. The airport is currently being used to ferry Americans, Afghans, and others to safe havens, with many ultimately being flown to the United States.
Biden had insisted that the evacuation efforts were on track to finish by the deadline he put into place in the summer after breaking with a deadline the Trump administration hammered out in an agreement with the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban is now insisting that the United States adhere to the Aug. 31 deadline set by Biden, warning of “consequences” if it doesn’t do so.
As many as 1,500 Americans remained in Afghanistan as of Aug. 25, U.S. officials said. They said the number might be lower, because some of the Americans being flown out aren’t reporting their departures to the government.