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G7 leaders to seek unity on Taliban as deadline for evacuation looms


The Group of Seven (G7) leaders will be under pressure to present a united front at an emergency summit on Afghanistan on Tuesday despite public divisions over the deadline to complete evacuations from the country by 31 August, according to The Guardian.  

With the deadline to get out of Kabul looming, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair online talks where, diplomatic sources told Reuters, G7 nations were expected to show unity on areas including whether to sanction or officially recognise the Taliban to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and protect the human rights of vulnerable groups.

The talks come amid desperate scenes in Kabul, where countries including the US and UK are scrambling to get people out. Evacuations were being conducted on a “war footing” one NATO diplomat told Reuters on Tuesday. 

Tuesday’s talks will include leaders from the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada and Japan, plus NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

One European diplomat said: “The G7 leaders will agree to coordinate on if or when to recognise the Taliban and they will commit to continue to work closely together.”

However, many US allies are still unhappy with Washington’s approach as Kabul fell on August 15.

Officials in Washington confirmed that the UK has asked for the deadline for the Kabul evacuation to be extended and that the US has been resistant.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow has made clear the Taliban would not tolerate western forces staying into September – a spokesperson for the group said on Monday this would cross a “red line” and “provoke a reaction”.

Britain’s US envoy Karen Pierce said the G7 will take stock of the evacuation efforts and commit to coordinating closely on further steps, including security, humanitarian assistance and resettlement of refugees.

“We want to work together to convey the very important point that we don’t want Afghanistan to be a breeding ground for terrorism. We don’t want it to lapse into its pre-9/11 state,” added Pierce.