Boris Johnson has joined with other international leaders to warn the Taliban its legitimacy to govern Afghanistan will depend on its commitment to human rights, as the militants claimed animosities with foreign powers were over.
Holding a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, according to a translation by al Jazeera, told journalists: “We do not have any grudges against anybody.
“We have pardoned anyone, all those who have fought against us. We don’t want to repeat any conflict, any war, again, and we want to do away with the factors for conflict.
“Therefore, the Islamic Emirate does not have any kind of hostility or animosity with anyone, animosities have come to an end, and we would like to live peacefully.
“We don’t want any internal enemies and any external enemies.”
Since the collapse of Kabul to the group on Sunday, international leaders have stressed any new government must uphold its commitment to human rights amid reports of house-to-house inspections of those who could be considered against the Taliban.
In a telephone call with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said the recognition of a future Taliban government in Afghanistan would “be subject to them upholding internationally-agreed standards on human rights and inclusivity”, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
And speaking to US President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening, the PM stressed the importance of preserving the gains which had been made.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister stressed the importance of not losing the gains made in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, of protecting ourselves against any emerging threat from terrorism and of continuing to support the people of Afghanistan.”
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the organisation would “continue to hold the new rulers accountable for living up to fundamental human rights, including, of course, the rights of women”.
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The Taliban has signalled it intends to uphold the Doha agreement, which includes not allowing terrorists al Qaida to operate in Afghanistan and upholding civil rights.
Mr Mujahid told journalists that interpreters and contractors who supported Allied efforts will be pardoned, that residents would be safe and “nobody is going to be treated with revenge”.
He said the Taliban is committed to a “free and independent media” but that “nothing should be against Islamic values when it comes to the activities of the media”.
While he said women’s rights were “very important” and would be respected, this would be “within the framework of Sharia”.
He said: “Our sisters … have the same rights, will be able to benefit from their rights. They can have activities in different sectors and different areas on the basis of our rules and regulations, educational, health and other areas.
“They are going to be working with us, shoulder to shoulder with us, and the international community – if they have concerns – we would like to assure them that there is not going to be any discrimination against women, but of course within the frameworks that we have.”
No 10 said the Prime Minister plans to use a G7 meeting to focus on ensuring Afghanistan does not once again become a source of international terrorist threats, as it did in the 1990s when it harboured al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.
Earlier, Downing Street confirmed the UK wants the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – which, as well as Britain, includes the US, China, France and Russia – to meet this week to discuss the situation.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged the PM to publish details of a “bespoke” resettlement scheme to allow fleeing Afghans to set up home in the UK ahead of Parliament being recalled on Wednesday.
The Telegraph reported the concept could be similar to that used to take in Syrian refugees in 2015, which saw women with children, people with serious medical conditions and survivors of torture prioritised.
Speaking after attending a meeting with national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Sir Keir said: “The first question is getting our international partners round a table, including neighbouring countries to Afghanistan, to draw up an urgent plan for the safe and legal exit of refugees that inevitably will flow from this.”
Those eligible to come to the UK have been told it is up to them to make their way to Kabul airport.
Around 900 armed forces are in Afghanistan helping to bring UK nationals home and secure the safety of selected Afghans.
Royal Navy Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme the Taliban seemed “acquiescent” about allowing people to reach the city’s airport but stressed Britain could not take that position for granted as repatriation efforts gather pace.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said 150 British nationals were flown out on Sunday while 289 Afghan nationals were taken out last week.
A further 350 British and Afghans will be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours.
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