UK officials hold talks with senior members of the Taliban in Afghanistan

·3-min read

UK officials have held talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan in part to prevent the country from becoming “an incubator for terrorism”.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said Sir Simon Gass, the Prime Minister’s High Representative for Afghan Transition, and Charge d’Affaires of the UK Mission to Afghanistan in Doha Dr Martin Longden travelled to the country and met with senior members of the organisation.

A Government spokesman said: “Sir Simon and Dr Longden discussed how the UK could help Afghanistan to address the humanitarian crisis, the importance of preventing the country from becoming an incubator for terrorism, and the need for continued safe passage for those who want to leave the country.

“They also raised the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls.

“The Government continues to do all it can to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave and is committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan.”

The UK Government said the officials met with foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and deputy prime ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund and Abdul-Salam Hanafi, among others.

A statement on Twitter which appeared to be from a Taliban foreign affairs spokesman said: “The meeting focused on detailed discussions about reviving diplomatic relations between both countries, assurance of security by IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) for all citizens entering legally, and humanitarian assistance by UK for the Afghans.”

Abdul Qahar Balkhi said the UK delegation had said Boris Johnson was “seeking to build relations with IEA while taking into account prevailing circumstances” while the Afghan side said the UK “must take positive steps regarding relations and cooperation, and begin a new chapter of constructive relations”.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
People at an Afghan solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square, London (Yui Mok/PA)

He said: “We expect others to also not work towards weakening our government.”

The Taliban has been in control in Afghanistan since the fall of the western-backed government in August.

Former British solider Ben Slater, who was arrested by the Taliban while trying to evacuate hundreds of Afghans from the country, is also understood to have been released and left the country with the UK delegation.

It comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK military withdrawal from Afghanistan showed the connection of global events, providing opportunities for China and Islamist terrorists.

Mr Wallace told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester: “It is all interconnected and Afghanistan matters.

“Who popped up immediately as the US and Nato were leaving, but China, offering to invest in Afghanistan?

“That was about securing land routes to ports such as Karachi and also into Pakistan.

“It is all connected. The ripples from Afghanistan will be felt by al-Shabaab in Somalia, and of course al-Shabaab pose a threat to British interests in Kenya and to our friends in Kenya.

“The ripples of another superpower being portrayed as defeated by Islamic terrorism will be felt across the world.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting