• Monday, September 26, 2022

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Johnson says UK will work with Taliban if necessary

British prime minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by DAVID ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson said on Friday (20) Britain would work with the Taliban if necessary after the militants capture of Afghanistan, and defended his foreign minister who has come under fire for his handling of the situation.

“What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course if necessary, will go on,” Johnson told media.

Johnson said the situation at Kabul airport, where thousands of desperate Afghans have thronged seeking exodus from the country, was getting “slightly better”.

The British government said it had secured the evacuation of 1,615 people since Saturday (14), including 399 British nationals and their dependants, 320 embassy staff and 402 Afghans.

Asked if he still had confidence in foreign secretary Dominic Raab who has faced calls for his resignation from opponents for his response to the crisis, he said: “Absolutely”.

There have been mounting calls for his resignation for declining to speak to his Afghan counterpart at a crucial time last week. But Raab on Friday (20) defended his action, saying he was “rightly” focussing on his priorities.

The British foreign secretary was holidaying on the Greek island of Crete on Friday (13), when he was advised by UK’s senior foreign office officials to contact Afghan foreign minister Haneef Atmar to evacuate interpreters who helped British forces and others. But Raab chose to delegate the job to junior minister Zac Goldsmith.

Reports suggest, Atmar refused to speak to someone regarded as being of inferior status, resulting in a delay in the communication between the countries when the Taliban.

Raab is also accused of not speaking to key UK ambassadors in Pakistan or Uzbekistan or regional ambassadors in London before the weekend when the Afghan crisis was deepening.

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