OTTAWA – Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, as his government continues to face pressure to take more decisive action in the current crisis.

His statement followed a refusal to answer the question directly on Monday, an approach taken by his rivals that are rapidly making Afghanistan an unexpected federal campaign topic.

On Tuesday, Trudeau noted that when the Taliban first took over the country 20 years ago, Canada did not recognize them at the time and is still considered a terrorist organization.

“Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan,” Trudeau said during a campaign stop in which he was presenting the Liberal party’s nursery plan.

“They have taken over and forcibly replaced a duly elected democratic government.”

Trudeau said efforts are continuing to resettle hundreds of Afghans who worked alongside Canadian soldiers during the years that Canada participated in the international effort to topple the Taliban years ago.

So far, around 800 have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, but the fate of hundreds of others who hope to qualify for a special resettlement program remains in limbo.

The rapid capture of the capital Kabul by the Taliban caused chaos at the country’s main airport and forced a brief hiatus in flights to and from the country.

“The Taliban must guarantee free access for people to get to the airport,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

“We will continue to work with our international partners to pressure them to do just that.”

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The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the US military is already coordinating with the Taliban as it accelerates the airlift of Americans and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport, and also brings in additional US troops in a fight to complete the evacuation in two weeks. US-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also fled the country.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said US commanders at the airport are in direct communication with Taliban commanders outside the airport to avoid security incidents.

Kirby said there has been no hostile action by the Taliban and that several hundred members of the now defeated Afghan army are at the airport assisting in the evacuation.

He said US forces plan to wrap up their evacuation oversight by Aug. 31, also the date President Joe Biden has set to officially end America’s combat role in Afghanistan.

Federal Conservatives, who, the last time they ended Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan in government, have been lobbying Liberals for weeks to accelerate Canada’s resettlement program, arguing they have had months to implement it and be prepared. for a swift takeover by the Taliban.

At a press conference on Tuesday, they called on Liberals to act in unison with allies, but also to be much more transparent with Canadians about how they will fulfill their commitment to resettle not only interpreters and others who worked directly for Canada. , but also. 20,000 more than they have promised to bring.

With Associated Press files

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