Boris Johnson will not be proposing to other world leaders new sanctions to deal with the Taliban, Downing Street has said.
The prime minister is set to host on Tuesday a video call of the G7 group of wealthy nations including the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Canada, to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan.
But No.10 pushed back at claims that the UK would be pressing the idea of financial sanctions should the Taliban if they allow the country to become a haven for terrorists or commit human rights abuses.
Johnson is under pressure from former PM Tony Blair and others to draw up a list of “incentives and sanctions” to avoid the country from losing the gains it has made during its shift to democracy over the past 20 years.
President Joe Biden said on Sunday that he was open to new financial penalties if the Taliban committed human rights abuses, adding “it depends on the conduct”.
But with the US and UK dependent on the Taliban’s cooperation for the current emergency airlift of citizens from Kabul, Downing Street played down the prospect of ramping up possible sanctions.
Asked directly about new sanctions being pushed at the G7 meeting, the PM’s official spokesperson said: “That’s not something the UK is proposing. Sanctions are one tool that countries have at their disposal but we’re not seeking to propose that.”
Reuters had reported one British government official and a Western diplomat both suggesting that Britain would consider sanctions and the withholding of overseas aid if the Taliban allowed terror groups to plot and launch attacks on the West or committed human rights abuses.
Blair, who published an article calling the decision to withdraw troops “tragic, dangerous, unnecessary”, said on Sunday: “We need to be drawing up a list of incentives and sanctions and other things we can do in order to use the leverage we have, which is not insignificant.
“The Taliban will find that governing is a lot harder than they thought. The population of Afghanistan is different.”
Last week, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said there were “levers” the West could apply, ranging from “everything from the sanctions that we can apply, to the ODA (Official Development Assistance) that we will hold back, pending reform and a more inclusive government”.
The UK is working with France to draft a UN Security Council resolution on Afghanistan, in a bid to bring on board Russia and China in a coordinated diplomatic effort to prevent the country from sliding into chaos.
Earlier, defence minister James Heappey acknowledged there was not enough time to replace US forces at Kabul airport to keep the evacuation going once the Americans leave.