A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaking during a remote press conference to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, London, Thursday, April 16, 2020. (AFP Photo)

Dominic Raab could not speak with Afghan counterpart as Taliban advanced. Clarifying his position on Afghanistan crisis, the British foreign secretary on Friday said he did not call his Afghan counterpart to assist the evacuation of Afghan translators who worked with the UK because he was prioritizing the security of Kabul airport.

“The UK government’s overriding priority has been to secure Kabul airport so that flights can leave,” Dominic Raab said in a statement.

He is facing mounting calls to resign over his alleged lackluster response to the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s power grab.

Raab had been holidaying on the Greek island of Crete as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital Kabul on Aug. 15.

He declined an urgent phone call with his then Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar, instead handing that responsibility to a junior minister in his department. However, the government has so far stood by him.

“On Aug. 13, advice was put to my private office (around 6 p.m. Afghan time), recommending a call to the Afghan foreign minister. This was quickly overtaken by events. The call was delegated to a minister of state because I was prioritizing security at the airport,” he said.

Labour shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack him if he “doesn’t have the decency to resign.”

Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader, said Raab has failed to perform his basic duties as foreign secretary, put people’s lives at risk, and “must resign, or be sacked.”