Representatives from the UK Foreign Office have travelled to Afghanistan and held talks with the Taliban, the government confirmed this afternoon.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said Sir Simon Gass, the Prime Minister’s High Representative for Afghan Transition, and Charge d’Affaires of the UK Mission to Afghanistan in Doha Dr Martin Longden, had travelled to the country and met with senior members of the organisation.
The UK Government said the officials met with foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and deputy prime ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund and Abdul-Salam Hanafi, among others.
“Sir Simon and Dr Longden discussed how the UK could help Afghanistan to address the humanitarian crisis, the importance of preventing the country from becoming an incubator for terrorism, and the need for continued safe passage for those who want to leave the country,” said a Government spokesperson.
“They also raised the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls,” he added. “The 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.”
A statement on Twitter which appeared to be from a Taliban foreign affairs spokesman said: “The meeting focused on detailed discussions about reviving diplomatic relations between both countries, assurance of security by IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) for all citizens entering legally, and humanitarian assistance by UK for the Afghans.”
Abdul Qahar Balkhi said the UK delegation had said Boris Johnson was “seeking to build relations with IEA while taking into account prevailing circumstances” while the Afghan side said the UK “must take positive steps regarding relations and cooperation, and begin a new chapter of constructive relations”.
He said: “We expect others to also not work towards weakening our government.”
The Taliban has been in control in Afghanistan since the fall of the western-backed government in August.