The British military has so far evacuated 7,109 people out of Afghan capital Kabul, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
The figure includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) programme, and a number of nationals from partner nations, the MoD said late on Monday.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said UK nationals and more than 2,200 Afghans who helped British forces are the “focus” of the government’s evacuation efforts.
“We will get out as many as we possibly can but we have been clear throughout that there is a hard reality that we won’t be able to get out everybody that we want to,” Heappey said on Monday.
He added, “The airlift is not the only route out of Afghanistan, not the only route to the UK.”
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries will hold an emergency summit later on Tuesday, during which U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to come under pressure to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for evacuation efforts at Kabul airport.
The White House said on Monday that Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had spoken by phone and discussed “the importance of close coordination with allies and partners in managing the current situation and forging a common approach to Afghanistan policy.”
Downing Street said the two leaders “agreed to continue working together to ensure those who are eligible to leave are able to, including after the initial phase of the evacuation has ended.”
In a statement, Johnson said, “Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the last 20 years.”
He promised to “use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and protect the gains made over the last two decades.”
But the Taliban has said it would not agree to an extension and there would be “consequences” if Biden delays the withdrawal.
Sir Laurie Bristow, British ambassador to Afghanistan, told MPs on Monday there was “pretty uncompromising” signalling from the Taliban that they want the operation finished by the end of the month, the Guardian reported.
Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Tuesday he was doubtful there would be an extension.
“I think it is unlikely. Not only because of what the Taliban has said but if you look at the public statements of President Biden, I think it is unlikely,” he told Sky News.
He said that “we’re not going to get everybody out of the country.”
PA, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.