Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, said on Tuesday (24) that the G7 countries agreed that the Taliban should grant free and safe passage to foreigners and Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan after the 31st.
“The number one condition that we are establishing as the G7 is that they have to secure the right path, through August 31st and beyond, of safe passage for those who want to leave”Johnson said after the group’s virtual emergency meeting on Afghanistan.
Despite Johnson’s statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the meeting that the G7 meeting did not result in an extension of the deadline for evacuations. (see below).
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a press conference in London on July 12, 2021 — Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via Reuters
Johnson called a virtual emergency meeting of the G7 (a group that brings together the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada) to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan.
“Some of them will say they don’t accept this, some of them I hope they understand the meaning of this, because the G7 has a very considerable economic, diplomatic and political influence,” said the British prime minister.
The spokesman for the extremist group, Zabihullah Mujahid, also discouraged Afghans from trying to flee the country through the international airport of Kabul, which has been used for evacuation flights.
Mujahid said people are on site or on their way back home as the Taliban will “ensure their safety”.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks at a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 17, 2021 — Photo: Reuters
Despite Johnson’s statement, Angela Merkel said after the meeting that the G7 meeting did not result in an extension of the deadline for evacuations.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau said that G7 leaders agreed on the need to put pressure on the Taliban to allow people to leave Afghanistan after the deadline.
“The international community has some very clear expectations and demands from the Taliban if they want to engage constructively and positively, whether it’s financially or in terms of food security,” Trudeau said.
US media say Biden accepted the Pentagon’s recommendation to remove US troops from Afghanistan by the 31st, but at the same time, asked for a contingency plan in case it is necessary to stay longer.
UN warns of serious humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan
CIA meeting with the Taliban
The Washington Post also revealed that the director of the CIA (US intelligence agency), William Burns, secretly met in Kabul with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the co-founders of the Taliban and political head of the extremist group.
The meeting took place in Kabul, on Monday (23), and is the biggest meeting between the Joe Biden government and the Taliban since extremists took over the Afghan capital and returned to power after 20 years (see the video below).
Baradar led the Taliban’s peace agreement with the US during the government Donald Trump, and also negotiated a ceasefire with the former Afghan government, before its fall.
He had been arrested in 2010 in Karachi, southern Pakistan, after a joint operation between the CIA and the Pakistani government, and was released in 2018 at the request of Trump.
CIA director met with Taliban leader, says Washington Post
Taliban back to power
The co-founder of the extremist group returned to Afghanistan last Tuesday (17th), after more than ten years in exile (see the video below).
It was the first time a high-ranking Taliban leader had publicly returned to the country since 2001, when they were expelled by the US after the 9/11 attacks.
The Taliban was removed from power by the US for hiding and funding members of al-Qaeda, a terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden and responsible for the fall of the Twin Towers and the attack on the Pentagon.
Until then, the Taliban ran Afghanistan by adopting an extremely strict view of Islamic law (sharia) and imposing restrictions above all on women, who were prevented from working and studying.
Ultra-conservative Islamic views included stoning, amputations and public executions and the ban on music, movies and even television.
The extremist group returned to power in Afghanistan on Sunday (15) after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, long before US intelligence had predicted.