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British hopes that Joe Biden will extend the evacuation from Afghanistan are fading amid fears that any delay could spark retaliation by the Taliban.
Ahead of an emergency meeting of heads of state and government hosted by Boris Johnson, UK government sources downplayed the chances of the American president extending his resignation period beyond August 31.
Instead, Johnson will urge other members of the G7 group of rich nations to allocate more aid to help the Afghans.
When the Prime Minister and Biden spoke on the phone on Monday evening, they talked about getting more refugees out of Afghanistan after “the initial phase of evacuation”, which is seen as an indication of plans to use neighboring countries as an exit route as soon as the Kabul Airlift ends.
When Labor warned that the virtual summit of G7 leaders was a “make or break” test of Johnson’s ability to show global leadership if Britain urged other countries to deliver on its pledges to aid and refugees.
The G7 video-broadcast summit hosted by the Prime Minister, which will also be attended by the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and NATO, will discuss increasing aid to the people of Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
Britain has doubled the amount of humanitarian aid to the region, providing up to £ 286 million effective immediately, and Johnson will urge leaders of the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Canada to follow suit.
However, critics point out that the increase followed the Tory government’s aid cut plans, which cut aid to Afghanistan from £ 292 million in 2019 to £ 155 million in 2021.
Several high-ranking figures in the UK government had hoped to persuade the White House to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.
Secretary of State James Cleverly told Radio 4 on Sunday, “The more time we have, the more people we can evacuate and we push for it.”
Although Biden has hinted that there might be some flexibility, ministers have now stepped down with the US not changing its timeframe.
The Taliban also warned Monday that they would view any extension of August 31 as a provocation.
Speaking before the meeting, Johnson said, “Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and the Afghans who have supported our efforts over the past 20 years – but with a view to the next phase, it is important that we come together as one international community and agree on a common longer-term approach.
“That is why I have called an emergency G7 meeting – to coordinate our response to the immediate crisis, reaffirm our commitment to the Afghan people and ask our international partners to honor Britain’s commitments to help those in need.
“Together with our partners and allies, we will continue to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to protect human rights and the achievements of the past two decades. The Taliban are judged by their actions and not by their words. “
In a phone call on Monday evening, Johnson and Biden discussed the importance of “close coordination with allies and partners in dealing with the current situation”.
A spokesman for No. 10 said, “The leaders have agreed to continue to work together to ensure that those who are authorized to leave the evacuation even after the initial stages of the evacuation are complete.”
Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesProtesters in Parliament Square call for help for refugees
The G7 heads of state and government are expected to reaffirm their commitment to securing the progress made in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, particularly on the education of girls and the rights of women and minorities.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said educational aid to Afghanistan should be withdrawn if the rights of girls in the country are not respected.
However, it is unclear whether the Taliban will be sanctioned if they fail to keep their promise not to undermine human rights.
The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the COBR Emergency Committee on Monday afternoon where ministers discussed the latest situation on the ground.
By Monday morning, Britain had secured the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people from Kabul since the beginning of last week, including British nationals and their dependents, embassy staff and Afghan nationals under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Britain has pledged to relocate up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans.
Shadow Secretary of State Lisa Nandy said, “This G7 virtual meeting is a critical test of the Prime Minister’s ability to bring international partners together, face the situation and show leadership.”
She said the UK should extend the Kabul Airlift beyond August 31, work with neighboring countries to keep land borders open, and establish a strategy to help those left behind.
“The Prime Minister has had eighteen months to plan this – the eyes of the world are on tomorrow’s meeting for the next seven days to count,” added Nandy.
“The G7 must agree on a common strategy to protect our collective security and ensure that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorist organizations that pose a threat to Britain.”