Taliban meet with UK, Iran delegations, seek to break isolation
A senior British envoy held talks with top Taliban officials in Kabul on Tuesday — the first since foreign forces evacuated from Afghanistan — as the country's new masters seek a path out of international isolation.
Afghanistan's Taliban leaders met with UK officials for the first time since taking power, a move the group hopes will pave the way for the country to refill cash-starved coffers as it teeters on the brink of economic collapse.
The Taliban declared a new regime after overrunning the capital in August and ousting the US-backed government.
But after 20 years of war the aid-reliant country faces economic collapse, with major donors pausing funding and no emergency support in place.
The new rulers have been courting hesitant foreign powers in a bid to restart cash flows to the country, where civil servants and healthcare workers have gone months without salaries.
The Taliban's meeting with British diplomats in the capital Kabul came a day after they met with an Iranian delegation - another first since assuming the helm - to discuss trade relations, a key driver of Afghanistan's economy.
The Taliban met with Sir Simon Gass, the British prime minister’s high representative for Afghan transition, and Martin Longden, the chargé d’affaires of the U.K. mission to Afghanistan in Doha.
The meeting marked Britain's first diplomatic visit to the country since the Taliban seized Kabul on Aug. 15, and took control of Afghanistan following the U.S. exit.
The two sides discussed how Britain can help Afghanistan battle terrorism and a deepening humanitarian crisis -- and provide safe passage for those who want to leave the country, a UK government spokesperson said.
"They also raised the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls," the spokesperson added, adding that Gass was joined by Martin Longden, charge d'affaires at the now evacuated UK mission to Afghanistan.