G7 agrees to ‘road map’ for dealing with the Taliban

But European leaders couldn’t convince the U.S. to stay and continue evacuations beyond August 31.

By Esther Webber

LONDON — G7 leaders on Tuesday agreed a “road map” for engagement with the Taliban contingent on Afghans being allowed safe passage out of the country, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after a virtual gathering of leaders from the wealthy nations.

But European leaders, including Johnson, were unable to convince U.S. President Joe Biden to extend a troop-withdrawal deadline beyond August 31, with both Biden and the Taliban rejecting the idea. The Taliban has seized Afghanistan in recent weeks as western allied forces prepare to leave after 20 years in the country.

In a joint statement, G7 leaders expressed “grave concern about the situation in Afghanistan.”

They added: “Our immediate priority is to ensure the safe evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have partnered with us and assisted our efforts over the past 20 years, and to ensure continuing safe passage out of Afghanistan. We will continue to coordinate closely on this.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said earlier on Tuesday that foreign nationals would be able to leave before the deadline, but that they were “not in favor” of allowing Afghans out of the country.

Johnson vowed to continue evacuations from Afghanistan “right up until the last moment that we can,” adding: “We are confident we can get thousands more out, but the situation at the airport is not getting any better. There are harrowing scenes.”

He revealed details of a G7 plan to deal with the Taliban, saying the West could unfreeze billions in assets if the insurgents guarantee safe passage for refugees, continue to educate girls up to the age of 18 and prevent a return to terrorism or an “anarcho-state.”

The U.K., France and Germany have all raised the possibility of U.S. forces staying beyond the end of August, but a senior White House official confirmed shortly after the G7 meeting that Biden had ruled it out.

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