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International - August 23, 2021

UK will leave when US does – minister

UK will leave when US does - minister

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the UK will leave Kabul airport at the same time as US forces.

Speaking to media on Monday, he confirmed Prime Minister Boris Johnson will “try and seek” a US extension beyond the current 31 August evacuation deadline date at a G7 meeting tomorrow.

“When they withdraw that will take away the framework… we will have to go as well,” he said. “I don’t think there is any likelihood of staying on after the United States.”

He added that we are “really down to hours now, not weeks”, adding: “We have to make sure we exploit every minute to get people out.”

UK deploys more evacuation staff at Kabul airport

The UK government has deployed five more workers to Kabul airport to aid in evacuation efforts, the Foreign Office has announced.

There are now 19 British personnel working on the ground, including Ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow, who has been praised for remaining at Kabul airport and aiding his team in processing visa applications.

Last week the UK government announced plans to accept up to 20,000 Afghan refugees, with 5,000 expected to arrive in the first year.

President Biden has announced that he plans to withdraw US troops from the airport by 31 August. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to urge him to extend this deadline at Tuesday’s virtual meeting of G7 leaders.

Anti-Taliban forces ‘ready for the resistance’

A spokesperson for the anti-Taliban forces gathering in the Panjshir Valley region of Afghanistan said that the group intends to “pursue peace and negotiations before any sort of war and conflict starts”.

Ali Nazary, of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, told the BBC that thousands of fighters had gathered in the region under Ahmad Massoud, son of the famed anti-Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Nazary called on the Taliban to enter into “sincere” negotiations, saying Massoud’s forces were “ready for the resistance”.

“The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan believes that for any lasting peace, we have to address the underlying problems of Afghanistan. We cannot just continue the same pattern we have been seeing for the past 40 years or 100 years or 200 years in the country. The number one problem is the centralised political system in the country,” he said.

“Afghanistan is a country made up of ethnic minorities”, he said. “It is a multicultural state. It needs power sharing, a power sharing deal where everyone sees itself in power… If one political force, whoever it is, from wherever they come from, if they try to dominate politics it will just create the conditions for internal warfare and the continuation of the current conflict.”

In an article for the Washington Post last week, Ahmad Massoud pledged to “defend Panjshir as the last bastion of Afghan freedom” and called on Western nations to “aid the cause of freedom”.

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