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World leaders prepare for emergency G7 meeting on Afghanistan

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Members of the UK Armed Forces continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 19-22, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 23, 2021.

U.K. M.O.D. | via Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host an emergency meeting of G-7 leaders Tuesday to address the chaotic situation in Afghanistan and what their next moves will be.

The G-7 countries — the U.K., the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan — will attempt to formulate a plan for the immediate term and the future as thousands of Afghan refugees are amassed around Kabul airport trying to get out of the country and as countries carry out one of the biggest airlifts in history to get their citizens out.

The virtual meeting will come against the backdrop of a turbulent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that has seen Taliban forces take control of the country in roughly 10 days as the Afghan military and government capitulated.

It also comes just one week ahead of the U.S.’s Aug. 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. Johnson is expected to request that Washington extend that deadline, something President Joe Biden has openly considered. But the Taliban have said they will not accept an extension.

“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Monday. “So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”

The U.K. intends to keep its roughly 1,000 armed personnel in Afghanistan until all of its citizens and Afghan nationals who worked for its forces are evacuated, and doesn’t have a fixed withdrawal date as the U.S. does. But there are fears that without U.S. forces on the ground, they will not be able to carry out secure evacuations.

“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” the Taliban’s Shaheen added.

Several Afghan forces and civilians have been killed in both fighting with militants and trying desperately to escape the country now under Taliban rule; some tried to cling onto a U.S. evacuation aircraft as it took off from Kabul’s international airport.

The U.S. government says it has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of approximately 48,000 people out of Afghanistan since Aug. 14, but admitted on Monday that it did not know how many more Americans remained in the country.

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