No unilateral recognition of Taliban, UK PM Johnson tells Imran Khan

London: Any recognition of the new government in Afghanistan should happen on an “international, not unilateral” basis, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan, as they discussed the unfolding situation in the crisis-torn country.

As part of a series of phone calls with world leaders to push for a coordinated strategy for the crisis in the region, Johnson spoke to Khan on Tuesday afternoon ahead of a call with US President Joe Biden.

It comes ahead of a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons on the Afghanistan crisis after the UK Parliament was recalled from its summer recess for the special session on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister stressed his commitment to work with international partners to avoid a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and the wider region, said the Downing Street read-out of the call.

The Prime Minister underlined that any recognition of the new government in Afghanistan to happen on an international, not unilateral basis,” the statement reads.

“He said that the legitimacy of any future Taliban government will be subject to them upholding internationally agreed standards on human rights and inclusivity, it says.

The two Prime Ministers are said to have agreed for the UK and Pakistani governments to keep in close contact in the coming days on the evolving situation in the region since the Taliban takeover.

In his subsequent call with the US President on Tuesday, Johnson welcomed the US and UK cooperation in recent days to help evacuate British nationals, current and former staff, and others from Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister and President Biden agreed on the need for the global community to come together to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister outlined UK plans including increased humanitarian aid to the region and resettlement of refugees, Downing Street said.

Women, girls and religious and other minorities, who are at most risk from the Taliban, will be given priority under the UK’s Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years, said Johnson, announcing the scheme.

“Many of them, particularly women, are now in urgent need of our help. I am proud that the UK has been able to put in place this route to help them and their families live safely in the UK,” he said.

While the details are still being finalised, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed on Wednesday that it will be a bespoke offer, aimed at resettling up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the years 5,000 being eligible in the first year.

“We could end up bringing many more [than 20,000] but first of all we have to have the underpinning and the infrastructure and the support to do that,” Patel told the BBC in reference to the scheme, which she stressed is still in its early stages and will take time to be fully operational.

The UK government plans to work with third-party agencies, humanitarian organisations and other governments, including the US and Canada, on the resettlement process for thousands of Afghans trying to flee the country after Taliban militia seized control of the capital Kabul over the weekend.

The new plan is on top of the existing scheme for interpreters and other staff who have worked for the UK. Around 5,000 Afghans and family members are expected to benefit from that policy.

Further details will be laid out as Boris Johnson opens the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Johnson is attempting to use the UK’s presidency of the G7 to push for a coordinated international response and has held a number of phone calls with European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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