British Foreign Secretary Raab in Qatar for talks on Afghanistan evacuation - Rokoto

British Foreign Secretary Raab in Qatar for talks on Afghanistan evacuation

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab landed in Qatar early Thursday morning, for talks with the country’s emir and foreign minister, in order to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for the thousands of people with U.K. ties left behind.

Raab will hold face-to-face talks with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, in hopes that Qatar, with its close links to the Taliban leadership, will be instrumental in reestablishing a functioning airport in Kabul.

“The decision to visit Doha first on a trip to the region reflects the high profile role the Qataris have played with regard to Afghanistan in recent years, including hosting the Taliban political office in Doha since 2013,” the Foreign Office said last night.

U.K. sources told POLITICO’s London Playbook that Qatar was crucial in working with the Taliban to enable the British evacuation mission.

On his visit, the foreign secretary will be briefed on the outcome of talks in Doha between British officials and Taliban leaders which have already begun.

Doha is expected to be the first stop for Raab on a tour of the region over the next few days, as the foreign secretary escapes a whirlwind of criticism back home over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis. Raab’s arrival in Doha came just hours after he was under fire from MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee about the U.K.’s exit from Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the British embassy in Afghanistan was moved out of Kabul last week and is now fully operational in Doha.

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