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UK may engage with Taliban but not recognise its government, FM says

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves 10 Downing Street after the weekly cabinet meeting on April 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves 10 Downing Street after the weekly cabinet meeting on April 27, 2021 in London, England [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today said there is a need to engage with the Taliban on Afghanistan, but Britain has no immediate plans to recognise their government, Reuters reports.

Raab was speaking in Qatar after meeting the Qatari foreign minister. Raab said they had discussed ensuring Afghanistan does not harbour terrorism in the future, preventing a humanitarian crisis, preserving regional stability and holding the Taliban to account on their commitment to a more inclusive government.

The UK official is expected to discuss Afghanistan with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

"The prospects of getting Kabul airport up and running and safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans across land borders (are) top of the agenda," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The visit comes a day after Raab stood before an emergency session of parliament's foreign affairs committee to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan.

READ: EU says it will not rush into recognising the Taliban

Britain's intelligence assessment was that it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year, Raab said as he defended Britain's withdrawal from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept across the country much more quickly than expected.

Britain, like the United States, failed to predict how swiftly the Afghan government would fall, so it had not made sufficient preparation for the chaos that would follow when the Taliban seized the capital on 15 August.

"The central proposition was that, given the troop withdrawal by the end of August, you would see a steady deterioration from that point, and that it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year," Raab told the committee of lawmakers.

"That doesn't mean we didn't do contingency planning or game-out or test the other propositions. And just to be clear, that's something that was widely shared – that view – amongst NATO allies."

READ: US coordination with Taliban against Daesh 'possible', general says

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