Britain in talks with Taliban over safe passage of remaining Nationals

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Britain has opened talks with the Taliban over the “safe passage” of its remaining nationals and allies out of Afghanistan after the hardline militant group’s quickfire takeover of the country last month. The British government told news agencies that it had sent Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special representative for Afghan transition, Simon Gass, to Doha, Qatar, to meet with Taliban representatives.

Much of the group’s senior leadership lived in exile in the Qatari capital until the overthrow of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government after 20 years of war. Britain is also sending 15 “crisis response specialists” to neighbouring Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to assist British diplomats in their work to allow people to reach the UK via third countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire after many Afghans who helped NATO — and are eligible to move to Britain — were believed to have been left stranded in Afghanistan, where they are at the mercy of the Taliban. A government official said Gass 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.” Britain ended its mission on August 28, with its last military flight leaving Kabul after evacuating more than 15,000 people in the two weeks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. The Taliban has promised to allow Afghans to leave and return to the country, but many Afghans and others remain in doubt about the group’s intentions.

The United States completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30, ending 20 years of war that led to the Taliban’s return to power. Johnson’s government sought to extend the US withdrawal deadline of August 31 but ultimately failed to persuade President Joe Biden.