Leaders of the Group of 7 nations are expected to press President Biden on Tuesday to keep U.S. troops in Kabul beyond Aug. 31 to complete a frantic evacuation of Americans, Afghan allies and others. But British officials were lowering expectations that Mr. Biden would go along with altering that deadline.
The president’s determination to end the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, coupled with a warning from the Taliban that they would not tolerate an extension, suggested that the leaders would face an uphill climb to change the timetable.
“I wish we had more time,” Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, told the BBC. “I think it is at the moment unlikely.” British troops, he added, had “literally hours to make sure everybody we can get through the gate.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency virtual meeting of G-7 leaders starting at 2:30 p.m. London time. It comes at a moment of acute strain in the trans-Atlantic alliance, with Britain and other NATO allies bruised by what they regard as the White House’s lack of consultation on the timing or tactics of the withdrawal.
Mr. Johnson spoke with Mr. Biden on Monday evening — the second time in a week — but neither the White House nor Downing Street alluded to an extension of the deadline in their accounts of the call.
“The leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure those who are eligible to leave are able to, including after the initial phase of the evacuation has ended,” said the British statement, which also cited a need for “diplomatic engagement to secure the progress made in Afghanistan and prevent a humanitarian crisis.”
While the evacuation will be the leaders’ most immediate priority, the aftermath of the withdrawal will also figure in the discussions, according to the British ambassador to Washington, Karen Pierce.
“What is the humanitarian response?” Ms. Pierce said. “What is the future engagement with Afghanistan for the West? Can we coordinate more resettlement of those Afghans who do manage to leave?” Britain, she noted, has committed to taking in 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan over the long term.
Other European officials said the meeting would be crucial to clear the air and prevent the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan from undermining other efforts in security and counterterrorism.
“The propaganda use being made of this online isn’t just in Taiwan, where China is claiming the West is untrustworthy,” said Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the British Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “It’s across Africa and elsewhere where we have commitments and contested space.”