Afghanistan: UK and Taliban in talks to ensure ‘safe passage’ out of country for British nationals and allies

UK officials are meeting with “senior Taliban representatives” in Qatar, Downing Street confirmed

UK officials and the Taliban are in talks in Qatar to ensure the “safe passage” out of Afghanistan for British nationals and allies.

Sir Simon Gass, the Prime Minister’s special representative for Afghan transition, is meeting with “senior Taliban representatives” to stress the importance of allowing people to leave Afghanistan, Downing Street confirmed.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The news of talks emerged as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced 15 crisis response specialists are being deployed to Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to assist British diplomats in their work to allow people to escape Afghanistan over land borders and reach the UK.
  • The officials are expected to arrive within the next 48 hours, with the focus on helping UK nationals, interpreters and other Afghans who were employed by the UK, and those Afghans judged most at risk.
  • Elsewhere, the Home Office said Afghans who worked with the British government and military will be able to move to the UK permanently.
  • Former Afghan staff and their family members who are eligible and assessed to be under serious threat to life, will be given immediate indefinite leave to remain as opposed to only five years’ temporary residency as previously permitted.
  • More than 8,000 claimants were among the 15,000-plus people evacuated by the UK since August 13, while the number of UK nationals left behind in Afghanistan is in the “low hundreds”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

What’s been 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.”

A No 10 spokesman

Background

MI6 chief Richard Moore held talks with the Pakistan military on Afghanistan in recent days, according to media reports in Pakistan.

The Daily Telegraph also reported secret discussions have taken place between senior British intelligence officials and the Taliban in Kabul in the past fortnight.

The newspaper said the aim of the talks was to seek assurances that Afghanistan will not be used to launch terrorist attacks on the west.

Meanwhile, Mr Raab will face MPs on Wednesday to discuss the Government’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

With doubts about his future as Foreign Secretary, No 10 insisted Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “full confidence” in Mr Raab.

Some of the ire was for remaining in holiday in Crete as the Taliban was seizing back control of Afghanistan.

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