Prime Minister Boris Johnson has discussed evacuation efforts in Afghanistan with US President Joe Biden, ahead of an emergency G7 leaders meeting to discuss the crisis.
Downing Street said that during a call on Monday the two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure eligible people can leave the country, including after August 31 when the initial phase of the evacuation is due to end in line with America’s planned withdrawal.
In a readout of the call, the White House said the two leaders discussed plans for the virtual meeting on Tuesday, “underscoring the importance of close coordination with allies and partners in managing the current situation and forging a common approach to Afghanistan policy”.
A spokesperson said in No 10’s readout: “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 added the two leaders: “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 call comes after reports that the Prime Minister is expected to urge the US president to delay the withdrawal of forces from Kabul airport during the virtual summit of G7 leaders.
Earlier on Monday, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said the Kabul evacuation effort is “down to hours now, not weeks” as he conceded Britain’s involvement will end when the US leaves Afghanistan.
The armed forces minister James Heappey said the numbers of people the UK wanted to evacuate from “Afghan civil society” had “grown significantly” in recent weeks, in an effort to resettle those who may face recrimination from the Taliban.
But the minister also warned the UK will not be able to evacuate everyone it hopes to.
Heappey said: “We will get out as many as we possibly can but we have been clear throughout that there is a hard reality that we won’t be able to get out everybody that we want to”.
But he added: “The airlift is not the only route out of Afghanistan, not the only route to the UK.”