World Politics

Biden addresses emergency G-7 meeting on Afghanistan as U.S. withdrawal deadline nears

Key Points
  • The G-7 countries — the U.K., the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan — were expected to attempt to formulate next steps on Afghanistan as tens of thousands of Afghans and foreign nationals try to get out of the country.
  • The meeting came just one week ahead of the U.S.'s Aug. 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.
Members of the UK Armed Forces continue to take part in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Kabul airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 19-22, 2021, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on August 23, 2021.
U.K. M.O.D. | via Reuters

President Joe Biden addressed an emergency meeting of the G-7 and other world leaders Tuesday as the U.S. comes under mounting scrutiny to answer for the chaos that has engulfed Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of America's troops.

Biden began told the leaders of the G-7 countries — the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — that the evacuation operation in Kabul is on pace to finish by the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

However, Biden has also directed the Pentagon and State Department to develop contingency plans to adjust the timeline if necessary, Psaki said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the meeting, was expected to request that Washington extend that deadline. The Taliban have said they will not accept an extension.

Biden is set to deliver a speech from the White House at 4:30 p.m. ET about the evacuation efforts.

The G-7 leaders discussed "a continuation of our close coordination on Afghanistan policy, humanitarian assistance, and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans," the White House tweeted after the meeting wrapped Tuesday morning.

In a joint statement afterward, the G-7 leaders expressed "grave concern" about the crisis in Afghanistan as thousands of Afghan refugees are amassed around Kabul airport trying to get out of the country, and as countries carry out one of the biggest airlifts in history to get their citizens out.

The G-7 called for international partners to work together to help Afghans safely evacuate the country and resettle elsewhere.

The virtual meeting came against the backdrop of a turbulent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that has seen Taliban forces take control of the country in roughly 10 days as the Afghan military and government capitulated.

It also came just one week ahead of the U.S.'s Aug. 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban have said they will not accept an extension.

"It's a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Monday. "So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that."

VIDEO2:4402:44
Photo journalist offers inside look at the evacuation of Afghanistan

The U.K. intends to keep its roughly 1,000 armed personnel in Afghanistan until all of its citizens and Afghan nationals who worked for its forces are evacuated, and doesn't have a fixed withdrawal date as the U.S. does. But there are fears that without U.S. forces on the ground, they will not be able to carry out secure evacuations.

"If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences," the Taliban's Shaheen added.

Several Afghan forces and civilians have been killed in both fighting with militants and trying desperately to escape the country now under Taliban rule; some tried to cling onto a U.S. evacuation aircraft as it took off from Kabul's international airport.