BORIS Johnson hopes to convene a meeting of world leaders at the “earliest opportunity” as he looks to co-ordinate the international response to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister is pushing for a virtual G7 meeting to be arranged, raising the idea with German chancellor Angela Merkel during a call yesterday and doing the same during talks with French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

In a signal that Johnson wants to draw together a broad coalition, Downing Street confirmed the UK wants the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – which, as well as Britain, includes the US, China, France and Russia – to meet this week.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford calls on UK Government to take in 35,000 Afghan refugees

The gathering would extend even further than the G7 alliance of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US, with the Prime Minister keen for leading economies to act together on choosing how to broach relations with a Taliban-led state in Afghanistan.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Johnson and Merkel agreed that “global co-operation was crucial”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the UK would have to work with “challenging” partners on its approach to dealing with the Taliban following their capture of Kabul.

UK relations with Moscow have been strained in recent years, particularly since the Salisbury Novichok attack in 2018, while Beijing and London have been at loggerheads over China’s growing technological influence amid security and spying fears.

Raab, who admitted that the speed of Afghanistan’s fall took the Government by surprise, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We’ll need a contact group I believe, of not just like-minded Western countries, but countries with direct influence even if we find it challenging dealing with them.

“The permanent members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, will need to be, I think, part of the solution, so it’s not going to be easy.”

Raab said he thought the international community must “test” the Taliban’s resolve to hold to promises previously made in their Doha agreement with the US, including ensuring terrorists do not take hold again in Afghanistan and leading a more “inclusive” government.

“Now the Taliban have never kept a promise so far, but I think given that they have those set of undertakings, we must test it and make sure that there’s a cost if they don’t live up to those responsibilities,” he added.

“It is going to be exceptionally challenging, but that is already what we’re looking to do and to try and galvanise some international action with that in mind.”

No 10 said the Prime Minister plans to use a G7 meeting to focus on ensuring Afghanistan does not once again become a source of international terrorist threats, as it did in the 1990s when it harboured al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. But politicians and defence experts warned that terrorists will be free to operate under the new administration in Kabul.

LibDem defence spokesman Jamie Stone said jailed terrorists were “now freely roaming the streets of Afghanistan” after the Taliban’s victory and predicted that backers of Daesh and al Qaida “will begin plotting their revenge on countries such as Britain”.

Stone is calling on ministers to publish the national security assessment it conducted before pulling British troops out of Afghanistan.