The US has clashed with some of its closest allies over US President Joe Biden’s insistence on sticking to an Afghanistan withdrawal date of Tuesday next week that would shut down a frantic international evacuation effort from Taliban rule.
Biden, after virtual talks with G7 leaders on Tuesday, said that the US and its closest allies would “stand shoulder to shoulder” in future action over Afghanistan and the Taliban, despite disappointing them in their urgent pleas now to allow time for more airlifts.
Biden was adamant that the risk of terror attacks was too great to accede to appeals from G7 leaders to keep what are now 5,800 US troops at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul beyond the end of the month, anchoring the airlifts.
No country would be able to evacuate all of their citizens and at-risk Afghan allies by the deadline of Tuesday next week, allied officials had said.
“We will go on right up until the last moment that we can,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had openly lobbied to keep the airport presence beyond the deadline.
Johnson acknowledged that he was unable to sway Biden to extend the US military presence in Tuesday’s talks.
“But you’ve heard what the president of the United States has had to say, you’ve heard what the Taliban have said,” he said.
“Our immediate priority is to ensure the safe evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have partnered with us and assisted our efforts over the past 20 years, and to ensure continuing safe passage out of Afghanistan,” the G7 leaders said in a joint statement that did not address precisely how they would guarantee continuing safe passage without a military presence.
Going forward, the leaders said that they would “judge the Afghan parties by their actions, not words.”
China said that it has established an “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,” following a meeting between representatives of the group and Beijing’s ambassador to Kabul.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) gave no details about the Tuesday meeting between Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy head of the Taliban political office in Qatar, and Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu (王愚).
Yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged views on Afghanistan in a call, the Chinese-language People’s Daily reported.
Xi urged all parties in Afghanistan to build an open and inclusive political framework, implement moderate, stable policies and cut ties with all terrorist groups, it said.
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