Afghanistan: Boris Johnson To Personally Plead With Joe Biden To Extend Deadline For US Troops Withdrawal
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to issue a personal plea to Joe Biden to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
As the deadline looms closer, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban took control of the presidential palace, with Biden admitting that the collapse of the government and the resulting takeover happened ‘more quickly than… anticipated’.
Chaos continues to unfold as Afghan residents attempt to escape Taliban rule, with thousands flooding to Kabul airport amid efforts to evacuate the country. With little more than a week to go until the August 31 deadline, Johnson is now set to plead for an extension.
Johnson will address Biden at an emergency G7 summit of the world’s most powerful leaders, set to take place tomorrow, August 24, with the evacuation and the need to prevent a humanitarian crisis placed at the top of the agenda for discussion.
In a tweet addressing the situation, Johnson said: ‘It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.’
At a White House conference on Sunday, August 22, Biden explained there are already ‘discussions going on about extending’ and, while he hopes that will not be the case, talks are taking place regarding the progress made in the withdrawal of troops.
Biden said he would tell G7 leaders pressing for an extension that the US government will ‘see what [it] can do’.
In a statement, they said: ‘It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that. If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posed a series of questions to the prime minister ahead of the G7 talks, asking whether Johnson had spoken personally to Biden about the extension.
In response Starmer’s questions, a government spokesperson said:
We are doing all we can to get as many people out of Afghanistan as possible including British nationals, our Afghan staff and others. Since Sunday we have evacuated more than 5,000 people and these life-saving efforts continue.
The prime minister has been clear a co-ordinated and concerted international effort is needed. We are in close contact with our Commonwealth and NATO partners to facilitate swift evacuations and have set out that there is no time limit to the resettlement programme.
On Sunday, Biden said the US had evacuated approximately 11,000 people in 30 hours over the weekend, adding to a total of 33,000 people who have been transported since July. Thousands more residents have also been removed with the help of evacuation efforts conducted by other countries.
If you’d like to help those who’ve been affected by the recent devastating events unfolding in Afghanistan, you can make a donation to the UN Refugee Agency United Kingdom here
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