France, Britain to Call for Kabul ‘Safe Zone,’ Macron Says
France and Britain on Monday will urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a “safe zone” in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said. “This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency,” Macron said in comments published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche. Above all, such a safe zone would allow the international community “to maintain pressure on the Taliban,” who are now in power in Afghanistan, the French leader added. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — France, Britain, the U.S., Russia and China — will meet on Monday to discuss the Afghanistan situation. Paris and London will take the opportunity to present a draft resolution that “aims to define, under U.N. control, a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron said. His comments came as international efforts to airlift foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghanis out of the country neared an end. France ended its evacuation efforts on Friday, and the United Kingdom followed suit on Saturday. U.S. troops have been scrambling in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a massive evacuation operation from the Kabul airport by an August 31 deadline. Macron announced on Saturday that discussions had been “started with the Taliban” to “protect and repatriate” Afghan nationals at risk beyond August 31. Speaking to reporters in Iraq, where he was attending a meeting of key regional leaders, Macron added that with help from Qatar, which maintains good relations with the Taliban, there was a possibility of further airlift operations. He added that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since August 17. In the article published by the French Sunday newspaper, Macron said he envisaged targeted evacuations in future, “which would not be carried out at the military airport in Kabul” but perhaps via civil airports in the Afghan capital or from neighboring countries.