UK PM Johnson Says US Decision to Withdraw Troops 'Has Accelerated Things in Afghanistan'

© REUTERS / STRINGERRCAF military transport plane over Kabul
RCAF military transport plane over Kabul - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.08.2021
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The Taliban* entered the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday morning with no resistance from the US-trained national army. By nightfall, they had taken over the presidential palace and were reportedly firing on the city's airport, where Western powers were evacuating their embassy staff.
Britain's prime minister has conceded there will be a "new government" in Afghanistan, but urged "likeminded" countries not to recognise it "prematurely".
In a televised interview immediately following a meeting of the government's COBRA emergency committee, PM Boris Johnson effectively acknowledged the victory of the Taliban in the 20-year war with the US and its NATO allies.
Asked whether he would have expected the country to fall to the Taliban so quickly, he replied: "I think it's fair to say that the US decision to pull out has accelerated things".
A video showed Western-backed President Ashraf Ghani leave the country by plane on Sunday.
"Our priority is to make sure that we deliver to UK nationals and all those who have helped the British effort in Afghanistan over the 20 years and get them out as fast as we can", Johnson said.
He stressed that some 2,000 Afghans had already come to the UK under the government's resettlement scheme, adding: "We're going to get as many as we can out in the next few days". 
"It's clear there is going to be very shortly a new government in Kabul or a new political dispensation, however you want to put it", Johnson said.
"I think it's very important that the West, collectively, should work together to get over to that new government, be it by the Taliban or anybody else, that nobody wants Afghanistan once again to be a breeding ground for terror".
Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal and their victory in the Afghan conflict on US in Afghanistan, in Alingar district of Laghman Province on March 2, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.08.2021
UK Parliament Recalled for Afghan Debate Next Week as Taliban Enters Kabul
The PM said it was not in the interests of the Afghan people for their country to "lapse back into the pre-2001 state", referring to the Taliban's rule before the US-led invasion, ostensibly in search of the elusive al-Qaeda* leader Osama bin Laden, who the US government claimed to have assassinated in Pakistan in 2011.
He said the UK would work with its "partners" on the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, and NATO to "get that message over".
"We don't want anybody bilaterally recognising the Taliban", Johnson stressed. "We want a united position among all like-minded [countries], as far as we can get one, so that we do whatever we can to stop Afghanistan lapsing back into a breeding ground for terror".
The Taliban pledged as part of the 2020 peace treaty with Washington — subsequently violated several times by new US President Joe Biden — that it would not allow terrorist organisations to use its territory as a base for attacks on other countries.
Asked whether the government was ready to "throw human rights out of the window" to gain concessions from a "shiny new Taliban 2.0", Johnson insisted: "Of course we continue to attach huge importance to human rights, to equalities".
"Think of everything the UK has helped to achieve over the past 20 years, the sacrifice of that mission... of course we don't want to see that thrown away", the PM said.
*The Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.
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