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Taliban takeover catches us unawares – British foreign secretary

DOMINIC Raab, the British foreign secretary has admitted that the United Kingdom government was taken unawares by the swiftness of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Raab added that Britain would have to engage with the Taliban in the future to hold them to account for their actions.

The foreign secretary said several nations did not foresee the takeover.

Raab, while speaking to newsmen, added that British intelligence had been tracking what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan “very carefully” after the United States decided to reduce its troops in the country.

He said, “the truth is, across the world, people were caught by surprise. I haven’t spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn’t been surprised.

“We saw a very swift change in the dynamics, and of course, this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of Western troops, but it has also been the way and the approach of the Taliban.

“Of course, it’s been a test for the Afghan security forces.

“All of those factors have been very fluid.

“But no one saw this coming. Of course, we would have taken action if we had.”

He defended his decision to return from his holiday when he did, adding he arrived back in Britain as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it.

In an interview with BBC on Tuesday, Raab said Britain believed the Taliban would attempt to move in later in autumn and a more gradual manner.

Asked if he would sit down with his counterpart in a Taliban Government, the Foreign Secretary said it would not happen “for the foreseeable future” but added there has always been some form of communication between Britain and the militant group.

He said, “We’ve always had a dialogue of some sort, either indirectly through third parties, or through the Taliban’s political commission in Doha.

“It is important to be able to engage at least in some shape or form to test and to exert as much influence as we credibly, realistically can, and also to try and hold the Taliban to account to the new commitments they made.

“We’ve got to try and use every lever working with our partners, working with the UN, working with NATO, to try and secure a more moderating influence, and a better course for the Afghan people in the months and years ahead.”

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