Boris Johnson has said the West needs to work collectively to ensure Afghanistan doesn’t again become a “breeding ground for terror”.
Following a second emergency Cobra meeting this afternoon, the prime minister said it was “very important that the West works together to get over to the new government that nobody wants Afghanistan once again to be a breeding ground for terror”.
It comes as a Taliban official said the militant group will declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace soon, according to the PA news agency.
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British troops land in Afghanistan to help with evacuations. Pic: MoD
Ashraf Ghani, who was president of the country, reportedly left the nation for Tajikistan after the Taliban entered the capital Kabul.
Mr Johnson said: “It is clear there is going to be – or there is going to be very shortly – a new government in Kabul, a new political dispensation.”
He added that the UK will be working with partners in the UN Security Council and NATO to make sure no-one bilaterally recognises the Taliban.
“We want a united position amongst all the like minded [countries] – as far as we can get one – so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into being a breeding ground for terror,” the prime minister added.
US Black Hawk military helicopters deploy anti-missile decoy flares over the city of Kabul. Pic: AP
Pressed on concerns over human rights under a Taliban regime – especially those of women and children, Mr Johnson said: “We continue to attach huge importance to human rights, to equalities – think of everything the UK has helped to achieve over the last 20 years, the sacrifice of that mission.
“You know, a lot of women and girls were educated thanks to the efforts of the UK.
“Human rights were promoted and protected in a way Afghanistan hadn’t seen before – of course we don’t want to see that thrown away.”
Before the invasion in 2001, the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan.
The prime minister added that efforts to evacuate those Afghans who need to leave the country will continue, with around 2,000 already removed.
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He said the “vast bulk” of embassy staff were now outside of the country, and the scale of the UK presence in Afghanistan was “very, very, substantially reduced since 2014”.
“There’s been no Afghanistan originated terror, and very much less Afghanistan related terror, on the streets of the West thanks to that effort [of the invasion],” Mr Johnson added.