Talks were serious and substantial, UK official says
British officials met with senior Taliban figures in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss humanitarian aid and safe passage for those who wish to leave Afghanistan, in the first high-level contact since the Islamists came to power in Afghanistan in mid-August.
The delegation led by Simon Gass, high representative for Afghan transition of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, held talks with acting deputy prime ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund and Mawlawi Abdul-Salam Hanafi, as well as Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister, according to the British Foreign Office.
Its statement discussed "how (Britain) could help Afghanistan to address the humanitarian crisis, the importance of preventing the country from becoming an incubator for terrorism, and the need for continued safe passage for those who want to leave the country."
The British side also raised questions over the treatment of minorities and the rights of women and girls, it said.
Martin Longden, charge d'affaires of the British mission to Afghanistan that is based now in Doha, Qatar, described the talks as "serious and substantial" in a Twitter post.
The Taliban's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two sides discussed reviving diplomatic ties.
Local broadcaster TOLOnews reported that Baradar, a co-foundeder of the Taliban, and Hanifi told the British visitors that their new government wants good relations with the world's countries, and they will not allow anyone to threaten any country from Afghanistan.
Citing a statement from the Taliban's administrative office, the report said Baradar and Hanafi also said the frozen bank assets of Afghanistan should be released because the situation is adding to the poverty and economic problems in the country.
They said the Taliban will facilitate conditions for international humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to vulnerable Afghans, according to the report.