Leaders of the nations included in the Group of Seven (G-7) on Tuesday said the Taliban is responsible for preventing terrorism, respecting human rights and working toward a peaceful solution in Afghanistan.
The leaders made the statement in a joint release, marking the first time the international community has recognized the insurgent, Islamic fundamentalist group.
The G-7 statement came following an emergency meeting convened by the United Kingdom and is part of an effort to unite allies on global strategy toward Afghanistan.
The meeting also came amid increasing tension between international allies and President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats punt key vote on budget to Tuesday Biden envoy calls on North Korea to restart nuclear talks Biden to decide on Afghanistan troop withdrawal extension in next 24 hours: report MORE, who has doubled down on completing U.S. military evacuations by Aug. 31.
The joint statement sought to project unity among leaders of the G-7, a grouping of the most advanced economies in the world, comprising the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Top officials from the European Union and NATO also joined the meeting.
The statement marked the first time that the group of nations identified the Taliban by name when addressing Afghanistan, singling out the group that took control of Kabul on Aug. 15 as responsible for preventing terrorism; respecting human rights, and, in particular, for women, girls and minorities; and pursuing negotiations for an inclusive Afghan government.
“In particular, we reaffirm that the Taliban will be held accountable for their actions on preventing terrorism, on human rights in particular those of women, girls and minorities and on pursuing an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan,” the statement read.
The international community has so far withheld acknowledging the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate ruler, with the Biden administration stressing that a transfer of power has not yet taken place. The U.S., along with allies, have urged a negotiated political solution to create an inclusive Afghan government that includes women and is accepted by the population.
“We call on all parties in Afghanistan to work in good faith to establish an inclusive and representative government, including with the meaningful participation of women and minority groups,” the statement read.
“The legitimacy of any future government depends on the approach [the Taliban] now takes to uphold its international obligations and commitments to ensure a stable Afghanistan.”
G-7 countries, the EU and NATO further underscored a commitment to Afghanistan’s people and providing humanitarian assistance and supporting refugees. The statement said the “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 twenty years, and to ensure continuing safe passage out of Afghanistan.”
Biden has committed to removing U.S. military forces by Aug. 31, a decision that has drawn criticism from allies, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and human rights group that argue more time is needed to carry out evacuations of Americans, Afghan allies and Afghans most at risk from Taliban reprisals.
Taliban officials have called Aug. 31 a red line to have all U.S. and other foreign forces exit the country.
Evacuations have ramped up over the past five days amid a chaotic start. The Biden administration on Tuesday said it had accomplished its largest single-day airlift by evacuating 12,700 people. The total number of evacuations since Aug. 14 is nearing 58,700 people, the White House said.
The administration has said it’s been in constant contact with the Taliban to assure safe passage to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport for Americans and Afghan allies of the U.S. who are looking to leave the country.
However, people looking to leave Afghanistan have reported beatings, whippings and intimidation by the Taliban at checkpoints on the way to the airport, and massive, dangerous crowds outside the gates have further kept people from entering.
Other reports indicate the Taliban are helping to facilitate evacuations. The Wall Street Journal reported that Taliban escorts were on buses used to move Journal staff to the airport.
CIA Director William BurnsWilliam BurnsAfghanistan’s fall renews terrorism fears for US The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by AT&T – Senate to vote on infrastructure bill; budget package up next CIA director to meet with Israeli, Palestinian leaders: report MORE met with the Taliban’s top political leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Kabul, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, in an effort likely addressing the Aug. 31 endpoint.