A special envoy for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with senior Taliban government officials in Kabul on Tuesday.
The UK said special envoy Simon Glass led a delegation that met with Taliban Deputy Prime Ministers Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi. The Taliban’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the two sides discussed opening diplomatic relations.
“The meeting focused on detailed discussions about reviving diplomatic relations between both countries,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi wrote on Twitter. He added that the British side conveyed that “the Prime Minister of UK is seeking to build relations” with the Taliban “while taking into account prevailing circumstances.”
The UK’s Foreign Office said the British officials “discussed how the UK 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 meeting is significant since all of the Western countries that participated in the US war effort in Afghanistan shuttered their Kabul embassies as the Taliban took over the country. The talks signal that London is accepting the reality of who leads the new government in Kabul.
The US has been using its power over the global financial system as leverage over the Taliban and has frozen billions in Afghan government reserves. Biden officials have said the Taliban must live up to certain demands from Washington to be recognized. For their part, the Taliban has called for the US to reopen its Kabul embassy and to engage in diplomatic and trade relations with the new Afghan government.