Taliban have to guarantee safe passage beyond Aug 31, or G7 will use its very considerable leverage: UK PM

London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said that the G7 has set a condition for the Taliban that they have to guarantee safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline, and hoped the Taliban would see sense as the G7 has “very considerable leverage — economic diplomatic and political”.
Speaking after the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan called by the UK was over, Johnson also said that the grouping of industrialised western powers had agreed on a joint roadmap for the way in which they are going to engage with the Taliban, which is set to form the government in Afghanistan.
On the evacuation efforts of his country, he said that Britain has evacuated around 9,000 people through 57 flights so far, and that the effort would continue till the last moment.
“It’s an extraordinary airlift, we’ve evacuated 9,000, the UK alone has taken 9,000 people out of Kabul, I think on 57 flights, that’s a huge, huge effort by our military and we will go on right up until the last moment that we can,” he said in comments after the meeting.
“We’re confident we can get thousands more out,” he added.
Talking about the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport where thousands have gathered to leave the country, he said: “But the situation at the airport is not getting any better, there are public order issues, and harrowing scenes for those trying to get out, it’s tough for our military as well.”
He said the G7, as leading western powers, has “agreed not just a joint approach to dealing with the evacuation but also a roadmap for the way in which we are going to engage with the Taliban.
“It probably will be a Taliban government in Kabul. And the number one condition we’re setting as G7 is that they’ve got to guarantee — right the way through August 31 and beyond — a safe passage for those who want to come out.”
Referring to the Taliban saying that they will not give any more time beyond August 31, Johnson said: “Someone will say they don’t accept that, and some will, I hope will see the sense to that.. because the G7 has very considerable leverage — economic, diplomatic and political,” he added.
His comments come as Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday said the US should stop evacuating skilled Afghans, and warned Western forces against extending the 31 August deadline for airlifts out of the country.
He said Americans were taking “Afghan experts” such as engineers out of Afghanistan.
“We ask them to stop this process,” Mujahid said at a press conference in Kabul.
He also said the crowds of Afghans thronging Kabul airport seeking a flight out of the country could go home.
“We guarantee their security,” he told a news conference. Mujahid also said there was no list of people targeted for reprisals.
On Monday, another Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen had said the fundamentalist group will not extend the August 31 deadline for the evacuation mission.
Shaheen said that the 31st of August was “a red line”.
He said US President Joe Biden had said troops would be out by that date, and extending it meant extending Afghanistan’s occupation. He warned of “consequences” if that were to change.