Dominic Raab flies to the Afghan border to ‘see the situation on the ground’ in trip captured in dramatic photos as he fights for his job amid criticism of his handling of UK’s exit from Kabul
- Dominic Raab today visited the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan
- The Foreign Secretary said that it was ‘good to see the situation on the ground’
- Came as he said the UK will not send international aid money to the Taliban
- He said the funding will go through international humanitarian organisations
- He challenged Taliban regime to create a ‘safe and secure’ environment for aid
Dominic Raab visited the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan today as he continued the battle to save his job amid an ongoing backlash over his handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Kabul.
The Foreign Secretary was flown to the border in an Army helicopter and he said it was ‘good to see the situation on the ground’ and to ‘understand what’s happening’.
Mr Raab has undertaken a trip to the region, visiting Qatar and Pakistan, in a bid to bolster efforts to help British allies left behind in Afghanistan get out of the country.
The tour has allowed the Tory heavyweight to escape a wave of criticism in the UK after his political opponents claimed he had been ‘missing in action’ during the Afghanistan crisis.
He has been widely tipped to be sacked at Boris Johnson’s next Cabinet reshuffle, although a shake up of the Prime Minister’s top team is not believed to be imminent.
Mr Raab’s visit to the border was followed by a press conference in Islamabad in which he ruled out handing international aid funding directly to the new Taliban regime.
The Foreign Secretary said the UK is not willing to put the group in charge of development spending and all efforts will go through humanitarian organisations.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan today
Mr Raab was flown to the border in an Army helicopter and said it was ‘good to see the situation on the ground’
Mr Raab has undertaken a trip to the region, visiting Qatar and Pakistan, in a bid to bolster efforts to help British allies left behind in Afghanistan escape the country
Mr Raab challenged the Taliban to create a ‘safe and secure environment’ to allow aid agencies to work and help Afghan citizens.
He said that will be an ‘early test’ for the group as he stressed that ‘no one wants to see the economic and social fabric of Afghanistan collapse’.
Mr Johnson has doubled the UK’s aid contribution to Afghanistan to £286million this year.
The Foreign Office has announced that £30million of that cash will be released to Afghanistan’s neighbours to help people who want to leave the country following the withdrawal of UK and US forces.
Mr Raab has already ruled out formally recognising the Taliban regime for the foreseeable future and today he said the group will not receive aid funding from Britain.
He said: ‘In terms of the aid, look, there are two areas of focus and again this comes back to some of the early tests for the Taliban.
‘No one wants to see the economic and social fabric of Afghanistan collapse.
‘I can’t see how that would be in the interests of the Taliban, let alone ordinary Afghans, we certainly don’t want to see that happen.
‘So we would be willing, not to fund aid via the Taliban, but through the humanitarian organisations that operate inside Afghanistan.
‘For that to happen there needs to be a safe and secure environment. So again, that is an early test for the Taliban but we are willing to make sure that we do our bit with the international community to fund the humanitarian agencies, the lifeline for ordinary Afghans.
‘But there needs to be a safe and permissive environment for that.’
The tour has allowed the Tory heavyweight to escape a wave of criticism in the UK after his political opponents claimed he had been ‘missing in action’ during the Afghanistan crisis
Mr Raab today ruled out handing international aid funding directly to the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He is pictured alongside Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
It came as Mr Raab again insisted the speed of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan had taken the US, UK and NATO by surprise.
He said: ‘The takeover I think it’s fair to say was faster than anyone anticipated, not just the United Kingdom or Nato allies, but I was talking with our friends here.
‘And I suspect the Taliban and ordinary Afghans were taken by surprise.
‘I think there was a common widespread surprise at the speed with which the consolidation of power happened.’