LONDON, AUG. 23 — As the deadline for US withdrawal from Afghanistan looms and the desperate scramble to evacuate people continues, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask his American counterpart President Joe Biden to keep his troops in the crisis-hit country beyond the agreed date. Thousands continue to gather outside Kabul airport in a desperate bid to flee after the Taliban seized control on 15 August. So far at least 20 people have died outside the airport, according to reports. And now with the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops just over a week away – 31 August – the UK government wants those forces to remain so evacuation flights can continue. Although Britain doesn’t have a fixed date of when it will leave, there are fears the remaining allied forces won’t be able to secure the area without help from the US.
It’s “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”, says Mr Johnson. Nearly 6,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans have been flown out but “there is still a huge amount of work to do”, says British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow. Meanwhile the US is ramping up its Kabul evacuation effort, says Mr Biden , adding discussions are taking place about extending the deadline but “our hope is we will not have to”. According to Foreign Office minister James Cleverly, the government will continue to lobby the US to extend the exit deadline, saying: “Obviously the more time that we’ve got, the more people we can evacuate and that’s what we’re pushing for.” Western powers have been grappling to salvage what they can ever since the Taliban’s capture of Afghanistan, says our political correspondent Chris Mason. The expectation is that Mr. Johnson will make the deadline extension request at an emergency meeting of the G7 group of rich countries on Tuesday.
– By NDN Reporter