PM expected to press for Afghan rescue extension in G7 meeting with Biden

Boris Johnson will press Joe Biden to delay Kabul withdrawal beyond 31 August

Boris Johnson is expected to use a meeting with world leaders to follow-up on the UK government’s push for US President Joe Biden to extend the Kabul evacuation deadline.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace held talks with their Washington counterparts over the weekend to press home the desire for US troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond August 31 in order to continue to secure the capital city’s airport for repatriation flights.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The Prime Minister is due, according to multiple reports, to use an emergency G7 summit on Tuesday to personally lobby Mr Biden on the issue
  • But Biden signalled on Sunday that he did not want US armed forces to stay in the central Asian country beyond August
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has written to the Prime Minister calling for more information on how the UK is planning for the next stages of the rescue mission
  • The Ministry of Defence confirmed that 5,725 people have been repatriated since rescue efforts began on August 13, with 3,100 of them Afghan individuals and their families
  • On Sunday, 1,721 people were airlifted from Kabul by the Royal Air Force across eight flights

What’s been said 

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme that the government would continue to try to convince the White House incumbent to extend the exit deadline.

“Obviously the more time that we’ve got, the more people we can evacuate and that’s what we’re pushing for.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly

Background

Government officials said there is “no fixed date” on when the UK will withdraw but it is feared that without US boots on the ground, the remaining allied forces would be unable to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport from the crowds looking to flee the Taliban takeover, or other potential security threats.

It has been reported that as many as 20 people have been killed in the past week while trying to get into the departure point.

The Times said the military will be extending the deadline for the last RAF evacuation, pushing it back from Tuesday to Friday or Saturday, with the evacuation programme expanded from 6,000 people eligible to come to Britain to more than 12,000.