London, Aug 24 | Publish Date: 8/24/2021 11:45:34 AM IST
The Taliban will be judged by its deeds rather than words, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said ahead of chairing an emergency G7 virtual meet to coordinate international response to the Afghan crisis.
Downing Street said that during the meeting Tuesday, the UK PM will call on the Group of Seven leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to continue to stand by the Afghan people and step up support for refugees and humanitarian aid.
He is expected to urge international partners to match the UK’s commitments on aid and the resettlement of those most in need in order to protect human rights and contribute to the stability of the region.
“Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the last 20 years – but as we look ahead to the next phase, it’s vital we come together as an international community and agree a joint approach for the longer term,” said Johnson. “That’s why I’ve called an emergency meeting of the G7 – to coordinate our response to the immediate crisis, to reaffirm our commitment to the Afghan people, and to ask our international partners to match the UK’s commitments to support those in need.
“Together with our partners and allies, we will continue to use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and protect the gains made over the last two decades. The Taliban will be judged by their deeds and not their words,” he said.
According to a Downing Street communique, the leaders of the world’s seven major industrialized democracies are expected to reiterate their commitment to safeguarding the gains made in Afghanistan over the last 20 years – in particular on girls’ education and the rights of women and minorities.
Discussions are set to cover the ongoing collaboration on evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport and the longer-term work to secure a more stable future for Afghanistan and ensure any new government is inclusive and abides by its international obligations.
The meeting will take place by video conference and the NATO and UN Secretaries-General have also been invited to join the discussion. It comes as the Taliban issued a stark warning that it would not entertain any suggestion of an extension to the August 31 deadline for the US-led NATO troops to exit Kabul.
The UK had hoped to persuade US President Joe Biden for such an extension in order to airlift its nationals and other eligible Afghanis out of the region.
Meanwhile, Johnson spoke to Biden ahead of the meeting on Monday evening to discuss the ongoing crisis.
“They discussed the ongoing efforts by the UK and US to coordinate the rapid and safe evacuation of our nationals and those who previously worked with our governments from Kabul International Airport,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
“The leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure those who are eligible to leave are able to, including after the initial phase of the evacuation has ended,” the spokesperson said.
The leaders agreed on the importance of “concerted diplomatic engagement” to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
“They committed to driving international action, including through the G7 and UN Security Council, to stabilise the situation, support the Afghan people and work towards an inclusive and representative Afghan government,” the spokesperson added.
Earlier, Boris Johnson set out his five-point plan for addressing the risk of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The plan has five parts: immediately helping those to whom we have direct obligations; protecting ourselves against any threat from terrorism; supporting Afghan people in the region through humanitarian and development assistance; creating safe and legal routes to resettle Afghans in need; and developing a clear plan for dealing with the new Afghan regime in a unified and concerted way.
The meeting of G7 leaders comes after the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of COBRA [Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms] on Monday afternoon, where the ministers discussed the latest situation on the ground.
As of Monday morning, the UK said it had secured the evacuation of almost 6,000 people out of Kabul since Operation PITTING began last week, which includes British nationals and their dependants, embassy staff, and Afghan nationals under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) programme.
The UK says it has already doubled the amount of humanitarian aid to the region, committing up to GBP 286 million with immediate effect. Last week, it announced a new bespoke resettlement scheme for around 20,000 vulnerable Afghans over the coming years.