Envoy travels to Doha for talks with Taliban on securing safe passage out of Afghanistan for remaining British nationals and allies.
The UK has begun talks with the Taliban in order to guarantee “safe passage” out of Afghanistan for British residents and Afghans who have worked for the British administration.
According to a government statement issued late Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special representative for Afghan transition, Simon Gass, travelled to Doha, Qatar, to meet Taliban representatives.
Until the overthrow of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government after 20 years of war, much of the Taliban’s senior leadership lived in exile in Qatar’s capital.
According to the statement, Gass is meeting with senior Taliban members to stress the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals and Afghans who have worked with us for the past two decades.
It is the first public remark regarding London-Taliban diplomacy since the UK helped the US in a huge evacuation of more than 100,000 people out of Afghanistan following the Afghan military’s capitulation.
In the days following the US withdrawal on Tuesday, the Taliban pledged to let Afghans to come and go, despite calls from the international community to do either.
Over 8,000 Afghans who helped NATO forces have made it out of Afghanistan, and the British government has announced that they would be granted indefinite leave to remain in the country.
However, Johnson has faced criticism after it was discovered that many Afghans who assisted NATO and are entitled to move to the UK were left stranded in Afghanistan, where they are at the mercy of the Taliban.
According to the Sunday Times, an unnamed British minister thinks the UK might have evacuated “800-1,000 more individuals” during the chaotic airlift.
Johnson’s administration tried but failed to persuade President Joe Biden to extend the US withdrawal deadline of August 31.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in mid-August, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the Taliban should be judged on their “actions rather than their statements,” insisting that the UK could not have stayed in Afghanistan without American support.
British foreign minister Dominic Raab was also condemned by the opposition Labour party for not immediately leaving a beach holiday when the Taliban took control.
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