US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Afghanistan yesterday and announced a virtual summit of the G7 leaders on the crisis, the White House has said.

"They agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders' meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach," the White House said in a statement.

It was the first phone call between Mr Biden and a foreign leader since the weekend takeover by the Taliban of Kabul, prompting a panicky operation to withdraw final US and allied personnel from the city's airport.

The sudden Taliban victory has sparked fears of a large-scale humanitarian crisis both in Afghanistan and possibly involving waves of refugees seeking asylum abroad, including in western Europe.

Mr Biden, widely criticised for the lack of preparation in getting thousands of people airlifted to safety, and Mr Johnson "discussed the need for continued close coordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan policy going forward," the White House said.

This includes "ways the global community can provide further humanitarian assistance and support for refugees and other vulnerable Afghans".

In London, a Downing Street spokesman said the two leaders welcomed US-British cooperation in the ongoing evacuation effort.

"They resolved to continue working closely together on this in the days and weeks ahead to allow as many people as possible to leave the country," a statement said.

"The prime minister and President Biden agreed on the need for the global community to come together to prevent a humanitarian crisis," the statement said.


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It said that Mr Johnson also "stressed the importance of not losing the gains made in Afghanistan over the last 20 years".

The G7, which Britain heads this year, comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Separately, the United Nations Human Rights Council has announced a special session on Afghanistan for 24 August to address the "serious human rights concerns" following the Taliban takeover.

The meeting, at the UN's Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva, is being convened following an official request by the representatives of Pakistan - coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation - and Afghanistan.

The joint submission has been supported by 89 countries so far, the UN's top rights body said in a statement.

Calling a special session outside of the thrice-yearly regular meetings requires the backing of at least a third of the 47 members of the council - 16 states.

The request has thus far been supported by 29 of the 47, including Argentina, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Afghanistan's neighbours Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Sixty other countries have so far backed the move, including Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The Taliban took effective control of Afghanistan on Sunday when president Ashraf Ghani fled and the insurgents walked into Kabul with no opposition.

It capped a staggeringly fast rout of Afghanistan's major cities following two decades of war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee the country to escape the hardline Islamist rule expected under the Taliban, or fearing direct retribution for siding with the US-backed government that ruled for the past two decades.


Women are among thousands of people who have tried to flee the country

Outside the Palais des Nations, several dozen people demonstrated against the Taliban.

They waved Afghan flags, held up signs reading "We lost our country and the world just watched", "Raise your voice for Afghan people" and "Free Afghanistan".

The crowd shouted "Death to Taliban" and three women held a banner reading: "We want an inclusive and just government in Afghanistan."

"We are here to ask for international help to come to the rescue of the civilians who are still there and who are in serious danger of death because for the most part, they have worked for the West and they find themselves trapped and surrounded by the Taliban," demonstrator Said Mir said

Samira had her lips painted in the colours of the Afghan flag.

"How can it happen all at once, in 10 days? How is it possible? Why has nobody helped us, why does nobody move, why do I have the feeling that nobody is doing anything?" she said.

The Human Rights Council meeting will be held in a hybrid virtual format due to Covid-19 measures, meaning the majority of interventions are expected to be delivered online. The meeting will be webcast live in the six UN languages.

The council will convene an organisational meeting on Monday at which further details will be announced.

The gathering will be the 31st extraordinary meeting of the UN's top rights body since its creation 15 years ago.