UK Start Talks Over Further Evacuations in Afghanistan

UK representatives have started talks with the Taliban for further evacuations while trying to ensure safe passage out of Afghanistan for several British nationals and Afghan allies who remain in the country.

Talks between UK officials and senior Taliban members have taken place in Doha, Qatar.

The Defense Secretary reportedly told MPs that around 150-250 people and their families remain in Afghanistan and are eligible for relocation.

The British government’s efforts to resume evacuations follow a pledge by the Taliban to allow more departures.

Commenting on the negotiations between the UK and the Taliban, a spokesman for No. 10 said the prime minister’s special representative for the Afghan transition, Sir Simon Gass, had traveled to Doha to meet with senior Taliban representatives.

Officials had been discussing an important safe passage out of the country “for British nationals, and those Afghans who have worked with us over the past 20 years,” No. 10 spokesman added.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that over 17,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan by the United Kingdom since the mission began, including 5,000 British nationals.

The UK also withdrew its troops over the weekend.

But the Taliban declared victory in Afghanistan after US troops’ withdrawal yesterday, with fighters taking over Kabul airport.

The United States Department of Defense released a photo of Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, 82nd Airborne Division’s commander, while boarding a C-17 cargo plane. He was the last US service member to leave Afghanistan.

Earlier, during a press conference at the Pentagon, US General Kenneth F. McKenzie announced the “completion of our withdrawal.”

McKenzie added that the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, was on the last flight out of Kabul on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that the US diplomatic mission in Afghanistan would operate momentarily from Doha, Qatar, as his government seeks to enter a “new chapter” in ties and negotiations with the country.

Critics and political experts have questioned the UK and US moves, wondering if the talks would legitimize the Taliban.

Victoria Atkins, who has been appointed as Afghanistan’s Resettlement Minister for the UK, told the media that any talks had been done “carefully,” adding that the government was focused on ensuring those eligible could leave Afghanistan.