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Afghanistan news – live: Even Taliban surprised by their success, says Raab amid fears group may seize UK arms

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Maroosha Muzaffar,Joanna Taylor
Friday 03 September 2021 15:59
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UK will not recognise Taliban, Dominic Raab says

Even the Taliban was surprised by the speed at which they took over Afghanistan last month, foreign secretary Dominic Raab claimed while speaking at a press conference in Pakistan.

“I think there was a common widespread surprise at the speed with which the consolidation of power happened,” he told reporters in Islamabad, adding “I suspect the Taliban and ordinary Afghans were taken by surprise.”

Mr Raab has maintained that the the pace of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul was unpredictable, despite being warned in July that the extremist group could return to power as a result of foreign troops vacating the country.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that millions of pounds worth of British arms exported to Afghanistan could end up in the hands of the Taliban and terrorist groups in the region.

Katie Fallon, a coordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), called on the government to “urgently investigate which end users now have control over these military goods”, which amount to £151m worth of weapons, ammunition and other equipment since 2008.

Labour has similarly pointed to the risk that of British weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, Isis-K. “There is a clear risk of high-tech equipment falling into the hands of the Taliban, or worse, Isis-K and other terror groups,” shadow defence secretary John Healey said.

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EU sets out conditions for future engagement with Taliban

European Union officials have said they are willing to cooperate with the Taliban, but listed conditions for defining their level of engagement.

The Taliban must respect human rights and the rule of law and Afghanistan must not become a base for “the export of terrorism to other countries”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Press freedom must also be upheld, he added, and Afghans must be allowed to access aid, while foreigners who fear for their lives must be able to leave the country.

“Our engagement will depend on the fulfilment of these conditions,” Mr Borrell said.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 14:59
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EU aims to establish ‘joint presence’ in Kabul

The European Union has called for the formation of an inclusive transition government in Afghanistan.

The foreign ministers of EU nations met in Slovenia to discuss their criteria for future engagement with the Taliban, as well as the drive to establish “joint European Union presence” in Kabul if security conditions are met.

The aim of such a presence would be to ensure the evacuations of EU nationals and Afghan staff and to assess whether or not the Taliban is respecting the bloc’s conditions of engagement.

“This political platform will consider, among other issues, the management of population flows from Afghanistan; the prevention of the spread of terrorism; the fight against organised crime, including drug trafficking and human being smuggling,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Anze Logar, meanwhile, said that the platformed would be aimed at trying “to stop any future migration flows” to the EU.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 15:19
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Thank you for following The Independent’s live coverage of the situation in Afghanistan.

A reminder that you can find out how to sign our petition calling on the government to accept more Afghan refugees to the UK here.

Joanna Taylor3 September 2021 15:26

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