LONDON, Aug. 22 (Reuters) – The UK plans to push world leaders to consider further sanctions against the Taliban when the G7 advanced economies group meets on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan, sources told Reuters.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who currently heads the group which includes the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Canada, called for the virtual meeting on Sunday, following the take rapid control of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Britain believes the G7 should consider economic sanctions and suspend aid if the Taliban commits human rights abuses and allows its territory to be used as a safe haven for militants, according to a British government official, who requested anonymity, and a second Western diplomat. .
US President Joe Biden told reporters on Sunday that the Taliban had taken no action against US forces controlling Kabul airport and had largely kept their promise to let Americans reach the airport safely.
When asked if he would support Britain’s demand for sanctions if the Taliban committed abuses, Biden said: “The answer is yes. It depends on the conduct.”
Taliban militants took control of Kabul last weekend in an upheaval that prompted Afghan civilians and military allies to flee to safety. Many fear a return to the austere interpretation of Islamic law imposed during the previous Taliban regime that ended 20 years ago.
“It is vital that the international community work together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to achieve the gains of the past 20 years,” Johnson said on Twitter Sunday.
Sanctions against the Taliban are unlikely to be enacted immediately, a Western diplomat said. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab first raised the possibility of sanctions to put pressure on the Taliban last week. Read more
Biden, criticized at home and abroad for his handling of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, said last week that G7 leaders would work out a common approach against the Taliban, and has previously held bilateral talks with Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Johnson plans to push Biden to extend his August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan so more people can be evacuated, British media reported.
On Sunday, Biden said the U.S. military was discussing a possible extension of the deadline, but hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.
He said Washington would consider an extension if G7 allies asked him to do so, but was working closely with those countries and others to help evacuate their citizens.
The US military said on Sunday it had ordered commercial planes to help transport people already evacuated from Afghanistan.
Biden told reporters on Friday that he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would work with other countries to establish “difficult conditions” for any cooperation or recognition from the Taliban, depending on their treatment of women and girls and their overall human rights record.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill in London and Andrea Shalal in Washington; additional writing by Susan Heavey and Radhika Anilkumar; Editing by Susan Fenton, Giles Elgood, Grant McCool, Heather Timmons and Daniel Wallis
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