Afghanistan: 'No-one saw this coming', says Foreign Secretary on Taliban takeover

The Foreign Secretary has said "no-one" saw the situation in Afghanistan coming and said the UK "would have taken action if we had".

Following the news that the Taliban have now taken almost total control of Afghanistan, Dominic Raab has expressed his regret over the developments in the country since the UK withdrawal.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Raab said "the truth is, across the world, people were caught by surprise.

"I haven't spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn't been surprised."

He added: "We saw a very swift change in the dynamics. And, of course, this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of western troops, but it has also been the way and the approach of the Taliban and, of course, it's been a test for the Afghan security forces.

Watch: UK's 20-year effort in Afghanistan ends with emergency rescues.

"All of those factors have been very fluid. But no-one saw this coming. Of course, we would have taken action if we had."

Commenting in a subsequent interview on the potential for a future relationship with his counterpart within a new Taliban government, the Cabinet minister said he did not see himself speaking directly with them "for the foreseeable future".

He told BBC Breakfast: "We've always had dialogue of some sort, either indirectly through third parties, or through the Taliban's political commission in Doha.

"It is important to be able to engage at least in some shape or form to test and to exert as much influence as we credibly, realistically can, and also to try and hold the Taliban to account to the new commitments they made.

"We've got to try and use every lever working with our partners, working with the UN, working with NATO, to try and secure a more moderating influence, and a better course for the Afghan people in the months and years ahead."

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Cover image: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (Picture: PA).

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