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No to recognition, yes to engagement: Britain's plan on Taliban amid Afghanistan crisis

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab is in Doha to meet his Qatari counterpart and Emir of the Gulf nation to coordinate efforts for humanitarian assistance and ensuring safe passage for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters at the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the US military's withdrawal, in Kabul on August 31.
Published on Sep 02, 2021 03:49 PM IST
Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday asserted that Britain will not recognise the Taliban but stressed the need to have direct engagement with the group. Raab is in Doha to meet his Qatari counterpart and Emir of the Gulf nation to coordinate efforts for humanitarian assistance and ensuring safe passage for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.

Doha, which has been hosting the Taliban political office since 2013, has witnessed several high-profile visits after a deal was finalised between the insurgents and the United States in February last year. After meeting Qatar’s foreign minister in Doha, Raab said that he’ll be talking to regional countries about safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans across land borders.

The UK foreign secretary said the two leaders discussed the ways to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a hub of terrorism in the future, prevent a humanitarian crisis and ensure the Taliban fulfil their promise of a more inclusive government. The meeting was also aimed at discussing the prospects of getting Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul up and running as soon as possible.

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Speaking at a joint press conference alongside Raab, Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that they evaluated the situation in war-torn Afghanistan. Sheikh Mohammed said that Qatar was holding talks with the Taliban and simultaneously working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations at the Kabul airport.

"We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible... hopefully in the next few days we will hear some good news," he said.

Reports suggest that a Qatar technical team landed in Kabul on Wednesday aboard the Gulf state’s flagship carrier to assess the damage at the airport.

"While no final agreement has been reached regarding providing technical assistance, Qatar's technical team has initiated this discussion based on the other sides' request,” AFP quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying.

(With inputs from agencies)

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