UK in talks with Taliban over British nationals in Afghanistan, No 10 says

UK in talks with Taliban over British nationals in Afghanistan, No 10 says
Meeting comes as Dominic Raab says number of British nationals in Afghanistan is in ‘low hundreds’

The UK government is in talks with the Taliban over the safe passage of British nationals out of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of western troops from the country, Downing Street has said.

No 10 confirmed on Tuesday that Boris Johnson’s special representative for Afghan transition was in Qatar to meet with senior Taliban representatives to discuss the issue.

“The prime minister’s special representative for Afghan transition, Simon Gass, has travelled to Doha and is meeting with senior Taliban representatives to underline the importance of safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past 20 years,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

It came after foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the number of British nationals left behind in Afghanistan was in the “low hundreds” – but he was unable to give a “definitive” figure.

“It’s very difficult to give you a firm figure. I can tell you that for UK nationals we’ve secured since April over 5,000, and we’re in the low hundreds [remaining],” Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

The UK’s 20-year military campaign in Afghanistan ended last week as the final UK flight carrying British troops left Kabul.

More than 15,000 people, including about 2,200 children, have been evacuated by the UK since 14 August, but there are concerns about what will happen to the hundreds of British nationals and eligible Afghans who were unable to leave the country.

The British government insisted on Tuesday that UK and Afghan nationals would be offered extra help to escape Afghanistan over land borders following the conclusion of the emergency airlift.

Fifteen crisis response specialists are being deployed to Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to assist British diplomats in their work to allow people to reach the UK.

They are expected to arrive within the next 48 hours, with a focus on helping UK nationals, interpreters and other Afghans who were employed by the UK, and those Afghans judged most at risk.


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