WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (Reuters) – Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives traveled to Afghanistan on Tuesday, leading to a warning from House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, who said such trips could divert resources from evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans .

Reps Seth Moulton, a Democrat, and Peter Meijer, a Republican, who both served in the Iraq war before running for Congress, said in a statement they went to Kabul to provide information as part of the oversight function of Congress collect.

“America has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must ensure that that obligation is met,” they said in a statement released after leaving Kabul after seeing the conditions at the airport.

Upon news of their visit, Pelosi sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives that did not mention Moulton or Meijer, but warned that the Pentagon and State Department had asked lawmakers not to go to Afghanistan “during this time of danger” to travel.

Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters that large numbers of House MPs wanted to go to Afghanistan, but she said in the letter that such a trip was unwise.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) descends the front steps of the house after receiving the Friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, March 12, 2020. REUTERS / Tom Brenner / File Photo

“Members’ trips to Afghanistan and surrounding countries would divert unnecessary resources from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating America and vulnerable Afghans from Afghanistan,” she said.

Moulton and Meijer said they left Kabul on an airplane with empty seats and sat on seats for the crew only, “to make sure that no one who needed a seat loses one because of our presence”.

Legislature said ahead of the visit that it wanted President Joe Biden to extend his August 31 deadline for the evacuation to be completed and for US forces to leave the country.

“After talking to the commanders on site and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that no matter what we do, we don’t get everyone out in time, not even before the 11th.

Biden has come under fire for not having started evacuating earlier and for the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport where Americans and vulnerable Afghans are being flown out of the country after the Taliban came to power.

The president said Tuesday that US forces had helped evacuate 70,700 people since Aug. 14. Continue reading

Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Patricia Zengerle, and Eric Beech; Editing by Heather Timmons, Peter Cooney, and Simon Cameron-Moore

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