- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2021

President Biden spoke to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday about the upheaval in Afghanistan, which was the president’s first call with a foreign leader since the Taliban takeover.

Mr. Biden and his U.K. counterpart discussed the need to coordinate allies and partners to create a unified Afghanistan policy going forward, including how to assist refugees, the White House said.

The two also spoke regarding efforts and evacuate British and American citizens out of the war-torn country along with Afghans who assisted their efforts, according to the White House.

The call between Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson comes just hours after White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters the president had not yet been in contact with any world leaders about the situation in Afghanistan.

Leaders across the globe have spoken out about the situation in Afghanistan, with some blaming Mr. Biden.



He has not spoken with any other world leaders,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters. “Right now, the main issue is an operational issue. It’s about how we coordinate with them to help them get their people out. And we are operating through logistical channels and policy channels to try and make that happen.”

Mr. Sullivan said that he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have had calls with several of their foreign counterparts. Mr. Blinken spoke with officials in China and Russia since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also was pressed about the lack of contact between Mr. Biden and other world leaders. She, too, said the administration was focused on evacuating Americans and others out of Afghanistan.

“If there is a benefit to the president picking up the phone and calling a world leader, he will certainly do that, and I expect he will do that in the coming days,” she said.

Several world leaders have criticized the U.S. decision to pull out of Afghanistan, saying it could return conditions there to the era when the Taliban previously ruled the country, from 1996 to 2001, and it was a breeding ground for terrorists.

In Italy, Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio pointed a finger at Mr. Biden, saying “the West has made mistakes and it is right to admit,” according to NBC News.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Afghanistan situation “bitter, dramatic and terrifying.” Germany has scrambled to evacuate more than 130 diplomats and others from the Kabul airport.

“It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society,” she said. “I am thinking of the pain of families of soldiers who lost their lives fighting there. Now everything seems so hopeless.”

Mr. Johnson distanced his country from the turmoil in Afghanistan, noting that his country’s involvement in the conflict ended in 2014.

“I think we’ve known for some time this is the way things were going and as I said before, this is a mission whose military component really ended for the U.K. in 2014, what we’re dealing with now is the very likely advent of a new regime in Kabul, we don’t know exactly what kind of a regime that will be,” he said.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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