Afghanistan crisis: Britain poised to work with Taliban despite 457 UK deaths

Taliban is 'more powerful than ever' says commentator

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said if the militants behave themselves the Tory Government will be willing to engage with them. His comments come as the jihadi group made more territorial gains today, taking control of a key border crossing with Pakistan. Senior Taliban members will meet with representatives of the Afghanistan government later this week as the group gains momentum.

In recent weeks the hard line Islamist militants have taken district after district as the United States wraps up its longest war.

Analysts have warned the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces is poorly timed and affords the Taliban a door to enter into power again.

Speaking during a visit to Washington, Mr Wallace suggested he was disappointed with President Joe Biden’s timeline.

Mr Wallace stressed that the rest of the international community had little choice but to follow suit.

Turning his focus to the Taliban, he said Britain would work with them if they swept into Kabul and took back power.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “Whatever the government of the day is, provided it adheres to certain international norms, the UK Government will engage with it.”

But he also said: “Just like other governments around the world, if they behave in a way that is seriously against human rights, we will review that relationship.”

He admitted it would be difficult for the UK to work with a group responsible for the deaths of 457 British personnel.

 

But he added: “All peace processes require you to come to terms with the enemy.”

In April, President Biden caught Britain off guard when he announced all US troops would have pulled out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The withdrawal is now expected to have been wrapped up by the end of August.

On Friday, the Taliban claimed its recent gains meant it controlled 85 percent of the country.

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

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001.

The group was toppled when US forces rolled into the Asian nation in October 2001.

After being ousted, they have spent the past two decades fighting to unseat the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Recently, the Sunni Muslim insurgents have been emboldened by the departure of foreign forces and see it as a unique opportunity to spring back into power.

Mr Wallace said what the Taliban “desperately want is international recognition” but said they would need to make significant changes before that could come about.

He explained: “They need to unlock financing and support (for) nation-building, and you don’t do that with a terrorist balaclava on.

“You have to be a partner for peace otherwise you risk isolation. Isolation led them to where they were last time.”

Later this week senior members of Afghanistan’s government will jet to Doha to hold high-stakes talks with their enemies.

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