Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new special representative for Afghan transition Sir Simon Gass met with senior Taliban figures in Doha, Qatar, in recent days, it has been confirmed
Image: AKHTER GULFAM/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Britain has opened talks with the Taliban about guaranteeing safe passage for thousands more Afghans and British nationals out of country.
Sir Simon Gass, the PM’s new special representative for Afghan transition, met senior Taliban figures in Doha, Qatar, in recent days.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted on Tuesday that hundreds of Brits remain stuck in Afghanistan after UK and US troops abandoned the war-ravaged nation to the Taliban.
Downing Street said it was bolstering the numbers of officials in neighbouring countries to help evacuate the remaining people left behind.
But the talks are a significant development as they suggest that UK efforts to help thousands more people leave the country remain a priority.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister’s special representative for Afghan transition, Simon Gass, has travelled to Doha and is meeting with senior Taliban representatives to underline the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past 20 years.”
Separately, there were reports last night that intelligence chiefs had held secret discussions with the new regime in Kabul seeking assurances Afghanistan would not be used to launch terror attacks on the West.
The Telegraph claimed that MI6 officers had met the Taliban both in Kabul and Doha amid fears the country could once again be used to harbour jihadi terrorists plotting atrocities.
A source told the paper: “It’s what we’ve always been most worried about. That’s a red line for dealing with them – any sign of attack planning.”
Government insiders have already suggested that any future foreign aid to Afghanistan could be dependent on the regime cutting ties with terrorist organisations like ISIS.
It comes hours after the last US troops flew out of the South Asian country – bringing an end to the war.
AFP via Getty Images)
The final military aircraft left Hamid Karzai International airport at around midnight on August 31, local time – as one official said: “Final plane is wheels up. War is over.”
Taliban fighters were seen firing guns into the air to celebrate.
AFP news agency quoted the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying: “Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all.”
Iranian Red Crescent / Avalon)
“We want to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all,” he added.
The US, UK and other nations have been scrambling to evacuate their citizens since the Taliban took over earlier this month.
And the evacuations became even more dangerous when a suicide bomb blast claimed by Islamic State killed 13 US service members.
At least 100 Afghan nationals also lost their lives in the attack on Thursday.
The US first invaded the Middle Eastern country in late 2001, aided by its allies, partly in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.