The United States will not keep troops in Afghanistan beyond August 31, despite international pressure to do so in order to facilitate further evacuation efforts.
In a sign of US president Joe Biden’s uncompromising stance on the issue, the much-criticised deadline for evacuation from Afghanistan of August 31 will remain in place.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Following an emergency meeting of the G7 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, Joe Biden has confirmed that the US will not maintain a military presence at Kabul airport to allow evacuation efforts to go on beyond the August 31 deadline
- This follows a statement from the Taliban earlier today, in which the militant group said it will not allow troops to remain after the deadline as that would be “against the agreement”
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Biden on Monday evening ahead of the meeting, and it is understood the PM tried to convince Biden to leave troops in place at Kabul airport
- The PM has said the “number one condition” of the agreement reached in the meeting is for safe passage after 31 August for anyone who wants to leave the country
- Thousands of people have been evacuated from Afghanistan so far since the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country earlier this month, leading to chaotic scenes and a number of deaths at the airport
What’s been said?
Boris Johnson said: “What we have done today at the G7 is we have got together the leading Western powers and agreed not just a joint approach to dealing with the evacuation, but also a road map for the way in which we’re going to engage with the Taliban, as it probably will be a Taliban government in Kabul.
“The number one condition we’re setting as G7 is that they have got to guarantee, right the way through, through August 31 and beyond, safe passage for those who want to come out.
“Some will say that they don’t accept that and some, I hope, will see the sense of that, because the G7 has very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political.”
“I am totally realistic about the Taliban and I don’t think that anybody is going to pretend that this is anything other than a very difficult situation.
“But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the leverage that we have.
“We want to help with the humanitarian crisis, the difficulties that people in Afghanistan, people fleeing Afghanistan, are going to experience.
“But when it comes to engaging with the Taliban, and engaging with the government in Afghanistan, whatever its exact composition, the G7 has huge leverage.”
In a press conference today, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said: “August 31 is the time given and after that it’s something that is against the agreement.
“All people should be removed prior to that date.
“After that we do not allow them, it will not be allowed in our country, we will take a different stance.”
US Vice-president Kamala Harris Tweeted: “We are working around the clock to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies—including translators, interpreters, Afghan women leaders, and journalists.”