British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask U.S. President Joe Biden to keep American boots on the ground in Afghanistan after August 31’s withdrawal deadline but the Taliban say they won’t accept any extension.
Johnson is set to push the American president for more time for evacuation during an emergency summit of G7 countries on Tuesday, according to briefings to journalists by No. 10 Downing Street. The meeting comes as several thousands of people have gathered around Kabul airport in a desperate attempt to escape Taliban rule.
However, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Sky News the deadline was a “red line.”
“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no,” he said. “Or there would be consequences.”
U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said earlier Monday that evacuations had been made possible by the presence of U.S. troops and Taliban co-operation.
“If there is no opportunity to extend [the deadline] — either because there’s not the international appetite to do so, or perhaps more likely the Taliban are unwilling to allow us to — then we need to continue with our plans to be out by 31 August,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Late Sunday, Britain’s Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly confirmed the U.K. has already asked the Americans to stay longer. “The thing that I think we’ve all learnt over the last week or so is that the timelines around which we plan are not always completely in our own control. Obviously the more time that we’ve got, the more people we can evacuate and that’s what we’re pushing for,” he told BBC Radio 4‘s Westminster Hour.
Biden said Sunday that discussions around extending U.S. military presence in Afghanistan were taking place, but said that “our hope is we will not have to.” The U.S. has previously said its troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of August. He added U.S. forces had expanded the perimeter around Kabul airport to boost evacuation efforts, and that the Taliban had cooperated.
The G7 meeting will be entirely dedicated to Afghanistan. The U.K. will also ask other G7 countries to consider sanctions against the Taliban if they commit human rights abuses or allow Afghanistan to once again become a haven for terrorists.
View original post