LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) – The UK plans to press leaders to consider new 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 is currently leading the group with the USA, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Canada, called for the virtual meeting on Sunday after the Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan.
Britain believes the G7 should consider economic sanctions and withhold aid if the Taliban commit human rights abuses and use their territory as a refuge for militants, according to a British government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and a second Western diplomat.
US President Joe Biden told reporters on Sunday that the Taliban had not taken any action against the US forces that control Kabul airport and largely kept their promise to let Americans get to the airport safely.
When asked if he would support Britain’s call for sanctions if the Taliban commit abuses, Biden said, “The answer is yes. It depends on behavior.”
Taliban fighters took control of Kabul last weekend. Many fear a return to the strict interpretation of Islamic law that was imposed during the Taliban’s rule, which 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 in safeguarding the achievements of the past 20 years,” Johnson said on Twitter on Sunday.
It is unlikely that sanctions will be imposed on the Taliban immediately, said a Western diplomat. British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab first mentioned the possibility of sanctions last week in order to put pressure on the Taliban. Continue reading
Biden, who is under fire for his handling of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan domestically and abroad, said last week that G7 leaders are working on a joint approach to the Taliban and already has bilateral talks with Johnson , the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France led President Emmanuel Macron and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Johnson wants to urge Biden to extend his August 31 deadline for US forces to withdraw 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 wasn’t necessary.
He said Washington would consider extending it if prompted by G7 allies but was working closely with those countries and others to help evacuate their citizens.
The U.S. military said Sunday it had ordered airliners to transport people who have already been evacuated from Afghanistan.
Biden told reporters on Friday that he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would work with other countries to establish “tough terms” for any cooperation with or recognition of the Taliban based on their treatment of women and girls and overall human rights record.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill in London and Andrea Shalal in Washington; additional writing from Susan Heavey and Radhika Anilkumar; Editing by Susan Fenton, Giles Elgood, Grant McCool, Heather Timmons, and Daniel Wallis
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