The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab paid a visit to Qatar on Thursday. According to the statement issued by the British government, “the decision to visit Doha first on a trip to the region reflects the high-profile role that the Qataris have played with regard to Afghanistan in recent years, including hosting the Taliban’s political office in Doha since 2013.”
Within the scope of his visit, Raab held talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. The latest situation in Afghanistan and evacuation operations were on the top of the agenda during the meeting between the two top diplomats.
Speaking at a joint press conference held following the bilateral meeting, the British foreign secretary acknowledged the need to contact the Taliban on Afghanistan, particularly on the issues such as evacuations and fighting against ISIS/Daesh and Al-Qaeda. However, Raab highlighted that his government would not recognize the Taliban in the foreseeable future.
Stating that the group will be judged based on its actions, not words, the British diplomat called the group to adhere to its commitment to form an inclusive government. Raab stated that the relocation of the British Embassy in Afghanistan to Doha had been accomplished.
Also, the British top diplomat said, “Our immediate priority is to secure the safe passage of remaining British nationals, the Afghans who worked for the UK, and others who may be at the most risk,” adding that he would be in touch with regional leaders on ensuring the safe passage through third countries.
For his part, the Qatari Foreign Minister stated that his country would maintain its support to provide stability and security in Afghanistan. Underlining the time when the airport will be completely operational is not clear, Sheikh Mohammed stated that his country is engaging with the Taliban on the issue and hopes that the talks would bear fruits as soon as possible.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is also expected to be received by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during the trip.