Monday, February 6, 2023

UK may work with Talibans, says Defence Secretary

The Taliban fighters have gained large swaths of Afghanistan after American forces withdrew from the country.

• July 14, 2021
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Taliban
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Taliban

The United Kingdom is willing to work with the Taliban if it enters government in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said.

The militants would meet with representatives of the Afghanistan government later this week as Taliban fighters surged through the district after district and taking control of large swaths of the country amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

During a visit to Washington, Mr Wallace indicated his disappointment at President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces, saying the rest of the international community had little choice but to follow suit.

But the defence secretary added that Whitehall was willing to work with the Taliban, who signed a deal with the U.S. in February 2020.

“Whatever the government of the day is, provided if it adheres to certain international norms, the UK government will engage with it,’’ Mr Wallace told the Daily Telegraph.

“Just like other governments around the world, if they behave in a way that is seriously against human rights, we will review that relationship.’’

The Wyre and Preston North MP acknowledged to the paper it would be difficult for the UK to work with a group responsible for the deaths of 457 British personnel, however he noted.

“All peace processes require you to come to terms with the enemy.’’

The U.S. withdrawal of forces was expected to conclude by August 31.

On Friday the Taliban claimed it controlled 85 per cent of Afghanistan’s territory.

The next day Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was not abandoning its commitment to Afghanistan in spite of him signalling the end of the UK’s 20-year military mission in the country. 

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