Europe

British forces returning to Afghanistan ‘not on the cards’, says defence secretary

British forces going back to Afghanistan is “not on the cards”, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has told Sky News.

Mr Wallace said it was not yet the right time to decide on whether to recognise the Taliban as the Afghan government.

“I think there is a lot of more to come before those decisions are made,” he said.

“The proof of the pudding will be, obviously, in their actions rather than their rhetoric.”

He did acknowledge that the Taliban “are in control” of Afghanistan, saying there is a sense of sadness in the recent events.

The Taliban has now seized control of all major cities in Afghanistan after insurgents took control of the capital. Fighters claimed the around 90% of Afghan state buildings are under the control of militants.

Mr Wallace confirmed 370 staff and British citizens were flown out of the country yesterday and the day before.

“The next group of Afghans to come out will be 782 and we’ll make sure we get them in the next 24 to 36 hours out of the country and are continuing to process those people,” he said.

Military flights are continuing to enter and leave and the country, and “they’ve just brought in more UK soldiers”: “Border Force is joining us to make sure that we accelerate the process to get more Afghans out, which is our obligation.”

Overnight, the US State Department confirmed all its embassy staff have been safely evacuated from the American Embassy in Kabul.

Mr Wallace said: “The US have made itself clear that they’re not intending to stay and as the framework nation that leaves us with difficult choices and I’ve been pretty much honest about that all the way through this process.”

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