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France, UK seek UN-controlled safe zone in Kabul for people trying to leave Afghanistan

French President Emmanuel Macron

France and Britain will submit a resolution to an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for Monday proposing a safe zone in Kabul under UN control to protect people trying to leave Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.

"Our resolution proposal aims to define a safe zone in Kabul, under U.N. control, which would allow humanitarian operations to continue," Macron told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) in an interview published on Sunday.

Macron, who is on a visit to Mosul in Iraq, confirmed the comments and said he was hopeful the resolution would be approved.

"I cannot see who could oppose enabling the safety of humanitarian operations," Macron told journalists.

Also read:  Biden warns of another terror attack at Kabul airport as US troops start pulling out

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is convening a meeting on Afghanistan with the U.N. ambassadors of Britain, France, the United States, China and Russia,  the Security Council's permanent members. 

Macron said on Saturday that France was holding preliminary discussions with the Taliban about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the possible evacuation of more people.

Both France and UK had wanted the US to extend the August 31 deadline  for leaving Afghanistan to enable them to evacuate more people. The issue was also taken up at the G7 summit, but Biden had refused to budge on the issue.

Both the countries have now ended their evacuations to facilitate the US troop withdrawal by August 31, but still have not been able to evacuate all the Afghans that have been working with their forces and are now fear for their lives with the Taliban taking over the country.

The suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday had further slowed down the evacuation process. Britain on Saturday announced the end of civilian airlifts from Kabul airport hours after France ended its evacuations from Afghanistan as the Taliban deployed more forces around the Hamid Karzai International Airport to prevent crowds from gathering as part of the increased security.

Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan, Laurie Bristow, said on Saturday that the time had come to end an airlift that had evacuated almost 15,000 Afghan and British citizens over the past two weeks.

"It's time to close this phase of the operation down but we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave, and we will do everything we can to help them," he said in a statement at Kabul airport released by Britain's foreign ministry.

The announcement came hours after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Minister and Defence Minister Florence Parly said France’s airlift had to be stopped late Friday due because "the security conditions were no longer being met at the airport" in the wake of Thursday’s attack which killed over 90 Afghan civilians and 13 US troops.

In a statement, Le Drian and Parly blamed the lack of security on the "rapid disengagement of the American forces".

Separately, Parly tweeted” "In less than two weeks, the French military has brought some 3,000 people to safety, including more than 2,600 Afghans," she tweeted.