UK says G7 leaders to discuss Afghanistan on Tuesday

Online summit will be held on Tuesday

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Number 10 Downing Street. Getty
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G7 leaders will discuss the crisis in Afghanistan on Tuesday in an online summit, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, a week after the Taliban retook power.

"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," Mr Johnson tweeted.

The UK is currently chair of the group of wealthy nations, which also consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US, and the EU, and he has been pushing for a meeting for the past week.

The western allies have faced mounting criticism over their handling of the crisis in Afghanistan amid chaotic scenes, as thousands of Afghans and foreigners try to flee Kabul after the hardline group's return to power.

After an online meeting on Thursday, G7 foreign ministers urged the Taliban to provide safe passage for those trying to flee the capital, in the bloc's first formal statement on the crisis.

In June, the G7 held its first in-person summit in nearly two years, in Cornwall in south-west England, where coronavirus and confronting China's increasing assertiveness dominated the agenda.

Since then, the Taliban has launched a nationwide offensive and surprised the West by recapturing most of Afghanistan within weeks, as the US and its allies withdrew from its two-decade military involvement there.

The US, which has sent thousands of troops temporarily to try to secure the airport and help to fly out its nationals and Afghans who helped them, has set a deadline to complete the effort by August 31.

But allies including the UK have suggested they would support extending the deadline, which should feature prominently in Tuesday's discussion.

Mr Johnson's office said he also spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday about the crisis, as the Taliban focus on forming a government in Kabul.

"The leaders shared the view that any new government must be representative of Afghanistan's diverse population and protect the rights of women and minorities, and that the Taliban would be judged by their actions not their words on this," Downing Street said.

"They agreed that countries must commit to burden-sharing on aid and refugees, noting that United Nations co-ordination would be central to that effort."

Updated: August 22, 2021, 8:22 PM