Afghanistan: Boris Johnson to push Joe Biden to extend Kabul evacuation deadline

23 August 2021, 07:12

Boris Johnson is set to plea with Biden over an extension to US withdrawal deadlines.
Boris Johnson is set to plea with Biden over an extension to US withdrawal deadlines. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to push Joe Biden for an extension to the US evacuation deadline from Kabul.

It comes as an an emergency G7 summit is set to take place on Tuesday, meaning leaders from around the world will be coming together to discuss the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.

Mr Johnson will take the opportunity to personally lobby Mr Biden on the issue, multiple reports have suggested.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace already held talks with their Washington counterparts over the weekend, in an attempt to slow down the evacuation process.

If US troops remain in Afghanistan beyond 31 August, it will allow them to secure the capital city's airport for repatriation flights.

Read more: 'Just a fact' Afghanistan evacuation would be hard: Biden defends US withdrawal

Read more: At least 20 die near Kabul airport amid Afghanistan evacuation chaos

In a tweet, Mr Johnson said: "I will convene G7 leaders on Tuesday for urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan.

"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."

However, President Biden has implied he does not want to budge on his plans to get everyone out by the end of August.

Asked about delaying the withdrawal of American troops during a press conference, he said: "Our hope is that we don't have to extend but there are discussions going on about how far we are."

The president previously told ABC News that, "if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out".

Read more: Afghan woman gives birth on US military evacuation flight

Labour leader Keir Starmer has written to the Prime Minister calling for more information on the UK's plans for the next stages of the rescue mission.

He asked whether Mr Johnson had "spoken personally" to President Biden to "ask him to extend the evacuation period beyond the end of August", and whether the UK was working on a contingency plan with Nato allies to "hold Kabul airport without US troops".

It comes after it was revealed that as many as 20 people have died in the past week while trying to get into the departure point.

Brigadier Blanchford, Commander Joint Forces Operations, said: "The horrific difficulties which families and individuals have in getting to the airport are clear and my men and women on the frontline have seen and witnessed some harrowing scenes."

He added that he was "proud" of the work of the armed forces in Kabul "who have shown professionalism and compassion in challenging circumstances".

Government officials have said there is "no fixed date" on when the UK will be withdrawing from Afghanistan, but with the US on the way out, the remaining allied forces would be unable to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport from crowds looking to flee the Taliban takeover, or other potential security threats.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that 5,725 people have been repatriated since rescue efforts began on 13 August, with 3,100 of them Afghan individuals and their families.