Britain’s Raab, in Qatar, cites need to engage with Taliban on Afghanistan

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

Raab was speaking during a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, where he visited housing for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept to power last month.

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar was talking with the Taliban and working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations at Kabul airport.

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“We are engaging with them (Taliban), engaging also with Turkey if they can provide any technical assistance on that front. Hopefully in the next few days there will be some good news,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“There is no clear indication when (the airport) is going to be fully operational yet...We remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that under current conditions Kabul airport could handle military aircraft for evacuation flights but that security and other conditions would need to be met for commercial flights.

“It is not a task for Turkey and Qatar to undertake on their own,” he said, calling for international coordination and warning of a possible migration wave from Afghanistan.

The extremist group seized control of the Afghan capital Kabul last month, but have yet to name an administration or reveal how they intend to govern.

Raab said he had discussed with Qatari officials ensuring Afghanistan does not harbor terrorism in the future, preventing a humanitarian crisis, preserving regional stability and holding the Taliban to account on their public pledge to set up a more inclusive government.

“Our commitment on the part of the United Kingdom to Afghanistan remains. We need to adjust to the new reality,” Raab told reporters.

“Our immediate priority is to secure the safe passage of those remaining British nationals, and also the Afghans who worked for the United Kingdom, and others who may be at the most risk,” he said, adding that he would be talking to regional leaders about securing safe passage through third countries.

Britain has moved its Afghanistan embassy from Kabul to the Qatari capital Doha.

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