Europe

G7: Europe’s leaders to urge Biden to extend Afghanistan withdrawal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to call on world leaders to reinforce their support for Afghan refugees and humanitarian aid when he hosts a virtual G7 summit on Tuesday.

The crisis in the country will dominate discussions at the meeting, hosted by the United Kingdom, as the August 31 deadline looms for evacuations to be completed.

The UK prime minister and others, including French President Emmanuel Macron. are pushing Joe Biden to extend the date that the US president imposed for the total withdrawal of American forces.

This is to help bring out thousands of foreign nationals as well as Afghans who worked for or otherwise supported the American-led NATO operation.

But the Taliban have insisted that Western forces must complete evacuations by the end of the month.

Amid the chaos that unfolded surrounding the evacuations in Kabul last week, and under pressure from allies, Biden has said military discussions are underway over a possible extension.

Johnson said on Monday that Western allies would “use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights” and protect social advances following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

The Islamist militants would be “judged by their deeds and not their words,” he added..

Tuesday’s G7 summit will bring together the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US, Canada and Japan, and will take place by video link in the afternoon. The heads of NATO and the UN have also been invited.

Boris Johnson spoke by phone to Joe Biden on Monday ahead of the meeting. A statement from Downing Street said the two leaders had pledged to work together to ensure that those with the right to leave Afghanistan would be able to do so.

But the statement did not mention London’s wish to see the troop withdrawal deadline extended beyond August 31.

The US State Department says it is boosting its vetting and evacuation efforts.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price says during a 24-hour period, starting on August 22nd, 28 US military flights evacuated approximately 10,400 people from Kabul. Price says 61 coalition aircraft also evacuated approximately 5,900 people from the airport.

Afghanistan’s burgeoning refugee crisis, the collapse of its government and fears of a resurgence in Afghan-based terrorism have left the G7 allies scrambling and threaten the unity of the bloc.

Price told reporters that the temporary transit locations that have been set up in the U.S. or at joint bases in Germany, Italy and Spain have capacity to process at least 15,000 people on a rolling basis.

Price said that is helping to facilitate the relocation of US citizens and at risk Afghans from Afghanistan.

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