LONDON – G7 foreign ministers agreed on the need for a joint approach to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, even as the United States seemed reluctant to engage with allies following its withdrawal from the country.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab chaired a video call with his counterparts from the grouping of the world’s richest nations on Thursday, in which they resolved to cooperate in an effort to provide aid and prevent further loss of life.
No specific measures were announced and no update was given on plans for a call between G7 leaders next week.
A British government official claimed that the United States had to be “forced” to accept the call after largely ignoring attempts by the allies to discuss Afghanistan over the past weeks led by France and the United Kingdom, which currently occupies the G7 presidency.
A senior conservative wondered why the call from the leaders was taking so long and said, “Why next week? It’s not that this isn’t an emergency and frankly, it should have happened by now. “
The former Conservative minister said the time between the fall of Kabul and the phone call between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Tuesday was a sign of strained relations between the United Kingdom and the United States, adding that it would have been “inconceivable” under previous administrations. , including that of Donald Trump.
A British diplomat argued that Washington’s silence said less about Joe Biden’s indifference to the UK and more about “Biden trying to downplay everything to the American public and consequently avoid many calls to foreign leaders.”
Aside from Johnson, the only other foreign leader Biden has spoken to since Sunday is Germany’s Angela Merkel.
In the same period, Johnson has spoken with Merkel, the French Emmanuel Macron, the Italian Mario Draghi, the Pakistani Imran Khan, the Australian Scott Morrison, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and the UN Secretary, Antonio Guterres.
In recent days, the prime minister has stressed the need for a common position on whether to recognize the Taliban regime. His most outspoken difference in Biden’s stance has been his comments on the Afghan army, paying tribute to his “bravery and sacrifice” in a statement from the House of Commons On Wednesday.
Raab chaired Thursday’s virtual meeting of G7 foreign ministers as he came under significant pressure for failing to call his Afghan counterpart on Saturday during the holidays despite pleas from his department officials.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said: “The Foreign Secretary participated in a series of other calls and this was delegated to another minister,” in response to the story in the Daily mail.
The Labor Party called on Raab to resign, but Conservatives said it is unlikely.
A cabinet minister commented: “He’s safe … the prime minister really qualifies him,” while several MPs said Raab’s vacation had not generated anything close to the same level of anger as the former health secretary. The Matt Hancock Affair.
Alex Wickham and Emilio Casalicchio contributed reporting.