Pakistan’s foreign minister has called for an inclusive political settlement with the Taliban, Reuters reports, describing it as the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
According to a foreign ministry statement, Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the remarks in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, about the situation in Afghanistan.
Qureshi told Lavrov that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region, and that Pakistan is facilitating the evacuation of foreigners stranded in Afghanistan.
The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, repeatedly underlined that extending the rescue operation into September was “unlikely” this morning. Here is our full report on the minister’s comments ahead of today’s G7 meeting:
The United States will not use its largest overseas military bases in South Korea and Japan to temporarily house Afghan refugees, two sources with close knowledge of the matter have said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one source told Reuters that US officials “appeared to have figured out better sites and decided to remove both countries from the list because of logistics and geography among other reasons”.
The South Korean government had responded positively when the US first floated the idea, the source added. The country is working with the US to evacuate some 400 Afghans who worked with South Korean troops and relief workers to Seoul.
China has said that imposing sanctions on the Taliban would be “counterproductive” ahead of the G7 meeting where leaders will discuss whether to recognise or sanction the group.
Beijing, which has seized on the images of violence from the evacuation to criticise the US for its engagement in Afghanistan, has kept open its embassy in Kabul and sought to maintain friendly relations with the Taliban.
AP reports that foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters: “The international community should encourage and promote the development of the situation in Afghanistan in a positive direction, support peaceful reconstruction, improve the wellbeing of the people and enhance its capacity for independent development.
“Imposing sanctions and pressure at every turn cannot solve the problem and will only be counterproductive.”
The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has said the EU will increase its humanitarian aid for Afghans from €50m (£43m) to more than €200m (£171m).
“This humanitarian aid will come on top of member states’ contributions to help the people of Afghanistan,” Von der Leyen said, adding that she would announce the additional support at a G7 summit later in the day.
Reuters reports that an EU official said that the aid will be conditional on the respect of human and women’s rights. They said this would determine how much money would enter Afghanistan directly or into neighbouring regions.
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has said that she had received credible reports of the Taliban committing serious violations, including summary executions of civilians.
Bachelet urged the UN human rights council, holding an emergency session at the request of Pakistan and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to set up a mechanism to closely monitor Taliban actions, according to Reuters.
She said there had also been reports of severe restrictions on women. “A fundamental red line will be the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls,” she told the Geneva forum.
Prominent Afghan women’s rights activist Zarifa Ghafari has arrived in Germany with her family.
Ghafari reached Cologne/Bonn airport late on Monday after fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan last week, the AP news agency reports.
In 2018, Ghafari became the mayor of the Afghan town of Maidan Shahr at the age of 26 and has survived at least six assassination attempts.
The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has said the UK trying to secure the airport after the US withdrawal is not a solution.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not about effectively whether I could fly in thousands of troops and secure the airport. Yes, I could do that, I could probably secure the airport for a few months, or maybe a year or two.
“But for what purpose? For them to be shot at, attacked, people not to get to the airport and to trigger just a permanent fight? I don’t think that is a solution.”
Norway’s foreign minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide, has called for the withdrawal deadline to be extended beyond 31 August, adding that Norway will continue evacuations as long as Kabul airport remains open.
“One of the main concerns is that the airport will be closed,” Eriksen Søreide told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 on Tuesday morning. “The civilian part is closed now, so we are completely dependent on the US military operation being maintained in order to be able to evacuate.”
She said there was “no guarantee” all Norwegian citizens would be evacuated – words which were echoed by the Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde.
Eriksen Søreide’s comments came as a plane with 157 people who had been evacuated from Afghanistan landed in Oslo. Norway has so far evacuated 374 people from Afghanistan.
In the UK, Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who served in Afghanistan, has said extending the 31 August deadline would depend on Taliban cooperation as well as a US agreement.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I support the prime minister completely on this, but let’s recognise what we’re asking – we’re not just asking the Americans, although clearly they’ll have a major role, we’re actually asking the Taliban, and that’s a really difficult thing, because bluntly, they’re not exactly trustworthy.”
Tugendhat said the government could ask the US to stand with them, adding that if the Americans decide not to the UK won’t be able to secure the airfield. He said that many families are struggling to get through the gate and “a day, maybe two days longer, would help just a few more”.