Saturday, April 13, 2024

UK’S Prime minister: Taliban must allow evacuations after August 31


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London­ – The Taliban must guarantee a safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Following an emergency virtual meeting of G7 leaders, Johnson said the United Kingdom would continue evacuating people from the country “until the last moment”.

He added he was confident thousands more could be airlifted out.

US President Joe Biden told the G7 meeting the US was “currently on pace” to finish its mission by 31 August.

However, his press secretary added that it depended on “continued co-ordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport”.

The UK was among several other G7 countries pressing the US to delay its withdrawal of troops, warning they will not be able to evacuate all those fleeing the Taliban after August 31 without the US presence at Kabul airport.

Biden is due to speak at the White House later to give an update on the evacuations.

Johnson, who chaired the meeting, said the G7 – the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – had agreed a “roadmap” for engaging with the Taliban, who retook full control of the country nine days ago.

“The number one condition that we are insisting upon is safe passage beyond the 31st, beyond this initial phase, for those who want to leave Afghanistan,” he said.

He added that the G7 had “very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political” at its disposal, including withholding substantial funds from the Taliban.

The prime minister said the UK had so far evacuated 9 000 people from Kabul, across 57 flights – although he added that there were “harrowing scenes” at the airport.

“We’re confident we can get thousands more out, but the situation at the airport is not getting any better,” he said. (BBC)


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