British foreign secretary visits Qatar for talks on Afghanistan evacuations

Dominic Raab to meet Qatar’s emir, foreign minister to discuss situation in Afghanistan

LONDON (AA) – The UK’s foreign secretary will meet Qatar’s leader and foreign minister in the Gulf country’s capital Doha on Thursday “to discuss the situation in Afghanistan,” a government statement said.

Dominic Raab will discuss with Qatari officials “the prospects of getting Kabul airport up and running and safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans across land borders.”

“The decision to visit Doha first on a trip to the region reflects the high profile role the Qataris have played with regard to Afghanistan in recent years, including hosting the Taliban political office in Doha since 2013,” the statement said.

Raab will “seek Qatari views on the feasibility of a functioning airport in Kabul, either for charter or commercial flights, which would provide a vital route for remaining UK nationals and Afghans most at risk to leave the country.”

The statement said that the UK is “keen to work with Qatar and other international partners to help deliver our priorities,” which are “ensuring that the Taliban government will bear down on the threat from ISKP (Daesh/ISIS-K) and Al-Qaeda and honouring their commitment in the Doha agreement to prevent Afghanistan soil being used to threaten the security of other countries; facilitating humanitarian access; and protecting human rights, especially those of women and girls.”

The foreign secretary will also meet officials from the UK’s Afghanistan embassy, temporarily relocated to Qatar, on further evacuations from the country, as well as on a G7 Special Representatives meeting convened in Doha on Tuesday and on a meeting between British and Chinese diplomats there on Wednesday.

In talks with the Taliban, Britain has emphasized “the importance of them allowing safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan; of standing by their commitments to address the threat from terrorism; and of the importance of an inclusive government that respects human rights, particularly those of women and girls,” according to the statement.

The UK has evacuated around 15,000 UK nationals and Afghans by the Aug. 31 deadline, but according to Raab, the number of UK residents still in Afghanistan is in the “low hundreds.”


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