British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy has held talks with senior members of Afghanistan’s new Taliban government in Kabul, officials said.
Senior civil servant Simon Gass met Deputy Prime Ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi on Tuesday, the British foreign office said.
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They discussed how the United Kingdom could help Afghanistan address a deepening humanitarian crisis, “terrorism” and the need for safe passage for those who want to leave the country.
“They also raised the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls,” a British government spokesman said.
“The [UK] government continues to do all it can to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave, and is committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan.”
Gass was accompanied by the charge d’affaires of the UK Mission to Afghanistan in Doha.
Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the meeting “focused on detailed discussions about reviving diplomatic relations between both countries”.
He added that Afghanistan’s foreign minister wanted the UK to “begin a new chapter of constructive relations”.
Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Kabul, said the visit is “significant” because there is now an “open line of communication” between the UK and the Taliban.
“I think this is what the international community is doing, it’s using this fact of international recognition of the Taliban as the legal official governing body of this country, to try and put pressure on the group to adhere to certain norms that they’d like to see,” Dekker said.
“We are in a time when the Taliban is seeking this international legitimacy, they need the millions … of dollars in funds to help get this country forward,” she added, citing Afghanistan’s dire economic situation, and concerns about drought and famine.
“What you’re seeing is a political dance,” Dekker said. “I don’t think it means they are any close to officially recognising them as the government, but a dialogue is in place.”