British diplomats have travelled to Afghanistan to discuss the treatment of minorities, women and girls with senior officials in the Taliban’s new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s envoy for the Afghan transition, Sir Simon Gass, and the Charge d'Affaires at the UK’s mission in Doha, Martin Longden, also reiterated that Afghanistan must not become a safe haven for terrorists again.
It marks the first time the UK has sent officials to the country to hold talks with the Taliban leaders since the mass evacuation of Kabul in August.
They met Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, foreign affairs chief Amir Khan Muttaqi and Second Deputy Prime Minister Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi.
“Sir Simon and Dr Longden discussed how the UK could help Afghanistan to address the humanitarian crisis, the importance of preventing the country from becoming an incubator for terrorism, and the need for continued safe passage for those who want to leave the country,” a UK government representative said.
“They also raised the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls.”
“The government continues to do all it can to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave, and is committed to supporting the people of Afghanistan.”
A Taliban spokesman said they held a detailed meeting on the UK’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
“The Afghan foreign minister said that UK must take positive steps regarding relations and co-operation, and begin a new chapter of constructive relations, adding that security has improved compared to past, no foreign country has been harmed from the soil of Afghanistan and we expect others to also not work towards weakening our government,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the foreign ministry of the Taliban's government said.
He said the meeting "focused on detailed discussions about reviving diplomatic relations between both countries, assurance of security by IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) for all citizens entering legally".
Earlier, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said world leaders at this month's G20 summit in Rome must unite to send a clear message to the Taliban on the conditions for international recognition.
He said the Taliban must offer assurances they will not align themselves with Islamist terror groups if the global community is going to see them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Mr Macron also said any recognition should be dependent on Taliban pledges that they will give women equal rights to men and allow foreign humanitarian and aid groups access to the country of about 39 million people.