NICOLA Sturgeon has said British troops should remain on the ground in Afghanistan for as long as necessary after a withdrawal deadline of August 31was agreed with the Taliban.

Boris Johnson is expected to appeal to the US president to extend the deadline at an emergency meeting of G7 leaders tomorrow.

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Sturgeon said there was a “massive responsibility” on world leaders to help with the growing crisis in Afghanistan, and added: “I support calls to ensure that there isn’t a cut-and-run operation in Afghanistan, that Nato countries are there and meeting their responsibilities for as long as is necessary.”

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She explained: “I think it is deeply regrettable that the current situation we’re seeing unfold right now has been allowed to develop in the way that it has, but we have to go forward from where we are right now.

“The world has a massive responsibility towards people in Afghanistan and it’s really important that that responsibility is lived up to.”

Ms Sturgeon said there had been “some correspondence” with the Prime Minister on refugee resettlement, but said she did not yet have a figure for the number of Afghans who are expected to settle in Scotland yet.

She added: “Scotland stands ready and willing.

“There’s lots of work to be done – lots of practical arrangements – but as well as living up to our responsibility to give refuge to people fleeing horrific circumstances like those seen in Afghanistan right now, we stand to gain a lot as well.

“Many of the Syrian refugees who came here are contributing massively to Scotland, they’re establishing businesses and working to make a contribution.

“So this is not just one-way traffic, there are lots of mutual benefits here.”

UK Defence secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged that British troops would have to leave when the Americans did, and said it was a matter of “hours not days” to get people to safety.

Speaking in Fort George, near Inverness, Mr Wallace said: “It’s really important for people to understand the United States have over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework… and we will have to go as well.

“I don’t think there is any likelihood of staying on after the United States. If their timetable extends even by a day or two that will give us a day or two more to evacuate people.

“Because we are really down to hours now, not weeks, and we have to make sure we exploit every minute to get people out.”

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Earlier, armed forces minister James Heappey conceded that the Taliban “gets a vote” on the evacuation deadline, ahead of the group seemingly ruling out a continued presence of British or American troops.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News: “This is something … you can say it’s a red line.

“President Biden announced this agreement that on August 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.

“It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, so it will provoke a reaction.”

Downing Street said the UK will continue its evacuation process “as long as the security situation allows”, when asked about the Taliban spokesman’s remarks.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I’ve seen the reports. I don’t think we’ve had any direct communication to that end.”

He added that “discussions on the ground” have been held with the Taliban over extending the deadline, but officials are still working towards a deadline of the end of the month.