UK seeks safe passage assurances after last troops leave Afghanistan

30 August 2021, 07:35 | Updated: 30 August 2021, 07:44

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been heavily criticised for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been heavily criticised for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The UK is seeking an international consensus on how to deal with Afghanistan's new Taliban-led regime, with an emphasis on the safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans out of the country.

The final British troops left Afghanistan on Saturday, ending a 20-year campaign there.

A series of diplomatic meetings are now planned for the coming days.

READ MORE: Three children killed by US air strike targeting 'multiple suicide bombers' in Kabul

READ MORE: Taliban shoots dead Afghan folk singer after banning playing music in public

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been heavily criticised for his handling of the situation, will set out how the response to the Taliban must be pragmatic and based on the group's actions, according to diplomatic sources.

The Government has previously insisted that how the new regime in Afghanistan would be received and engaged with was a decision that had to be made in agreement with international partners.

Mr Raab will on Monday take part in a meeting with G7 counterparts, Nato, Qatar and Turkey.

He is expected to underline how Afghanistan must not become a haven for terrorists, and that stability in the region must be a priority.

He will also stress the need to hold the Taliban to account on their human rights promises.

Top of the agenda is expected to be the Taliban's promise to allow safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans authorised to enter third countries.

UK troops and diplomats arrive home after 20-year Afghanistan campaign

It follows a statement from the UK and more than 90 other countries and organisations that said assurances had been received to this effect from the Taliban.

The Prime Minister's special representative for Afghan transition, Sir Simon Gass, will also push the same messages in Doha.

The pledge is particularly important amid fears that the numbers of Afghans left behind who may be eligible for resettling was far higher than Government estimates.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy wrote to Mr Raab on Sunday to explain how Labour MPs alone had 5,000 potential cases in their inboxes.

She warned the Government was working with a "serious underestimate".

She said: "My office is currently tracking cases related to 5,000 people from Labour MPs alone, including British nationals, high-profile public figures, people with serious disabilities and children separated from their families, which may give a sense of the complexity of evacuation."

Lisa Nandy calls for Dominic Raab to be fired for current failings

Meanwhile, the UK's UN ambassador will discuss the situation with her counterparts from the four other permanent member countries of the UN Security Council, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

It is understood the influence that especially Russia and China could have over the new Afghan government could be key to countering terrorism and narcotics, preventing a refugee crisis and averting further economic collapse.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday: "Though we now leave with the United States, we will remain represented in the region.

"Together with our allies in America and Europe and around the world, we will engage with the Taliban not on the basis of what they say but what they do.

"If the new regime in Kabul wants diplomatic recognition, or to unlock the billions that are currently frozen, they will have to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave the country, to respect the rights of women and girls, to prevent Afghanistan from, again, becoming an incubator for global terror, because that would be disastrous for Afghanistan."

It comes after the Government faced criticism for its response to the Afghanistan crisis.

Labour has accused ministers of being "missing in action".

On Saturday, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and Tory MP Tom Tugendhat described the UK's efforts to withdraw people from Afghanistan as a "sprint finish after a not exactly sprint start".

Major General Charlie Herbert, an Afghanistan veteran who has campaigned on behalf of translators, said in comments reported by the Daily Mail that the Foreign Secretary should consider his position carefully.

"If Dominic Raab is not up to the task in hand he must stand down now and let someone else deal with this crisis," the paper quoted the veteran as saying.

"If any abandoned interpreter or local staff member is killed at the hands of the Taliban, their blood will be on the hands of the Prime Minister and his Foreign, Defence and Home Secretaries," Mr Herbert added.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

A Trident test launch has failed

Trident launch fails for second time in a row in blow for Navy, as missile 'falls yards from nuclear sub that fired it'

People Kevin Costner

Divorce of Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner finalised

Jonnie Irwin and his wife, Jessica

Jonnie Irwin's grieving wife Jessica breaks silence as she reveals his death 'still doesn't feel real' two weeks on

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Prince William ‘knew making plea for permanent peace in Gaza would cause controversy’ - but ‘felt he had no choice’

Alexei Navalny was 'murdered' by Putin

Putin plans to launch ‘killing spree’ against Russia critics in the UK after Alexei Navalny 'murder'

Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court in St George, Utah

YouTuber Ruby Franke apologises at sentencing in child abuse case

Duane 'Keffe D' Davis in court during a status hearing at the Regional Justice Centre in Las Vegas

Ex-gang leader’s murder trial over Tupac Shakur killing pushed back to November

Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison

Parenting advice YouTuber and influencer Ruby Franke jailed for abusing her children

Shehbaz Sharif

Rivals of Pakistan ex-premier Khan name Shehbaz Sharif as joint candidate for PM

Palestinian crowds struggle to buy bread from a bakery in Rafah, Gaza Strip

UN World Food Programme suspends aid amid chaos in northern Gaza

The Security Council meets before voting on a resolution concerning a ceasefire in Gaza at United Nations headquarters

US vetoes UN resolution demanding immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Under the order, Lingham is banned from entering Holt Lowes between February 1 and October 1.

Shell-shocked: 'Addicted' Norfolk man 'illegally collected 3,000 native bird eggs'

In an apparent attempt to get ahead of another possible rebellion, Labour on Tuesday tabled its lengthy amendment, which will be voted on tomorrow.

'I want to do what is right': Labour's ceasefire motion is 'broader' and 'goes further' than the SNP's, says David Lammy

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Israel says Gaza war will only end when 'Hamas is dismantled' in direct reply to Prince William’s intervention

David Neal has been sacked by the Home Office

Home Office fires immigration chief inspector David Neal after claims about security risks at major London airport

Exclusive
Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms