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.”
Mr Wallace did acknowledge that the Taliban “are in control” of Afghanistan, saying there is a sense of sadness at Kabul’s fall.
The Taliban has now seized control of all major cities after insurgents took control of the capital. Fighters claimed around 90% of Afghan state buildings are under the control of militants.
Footage shared on social media showed people climbing onto planes on the civilian side of Kabul airport.
However, military flights continue to enter and leave the country and Mr Wallace said “they’ve just brought in more UK soldiers“, with Border Force “joining us to make sure that we accelerate the process to get more Afghans out, which is our obligation”.
He continued: “We will do everything we can to bring as many people out as possible.”
370 UK embassy staff and British citizens were flown out of the country yesterday and the day before, with the first flight landing at RAF Brize Norton overnight.
Last night the first flight of British Nationals and Embassy Staff arrived at RAF Brize Norton as part of Op PITTING.
The UK Armed Forces are supporting the evacuation of British Nationals and those eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program. pic.twitter.com/IyGNIMEaD0
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) August 16, 2021
“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,” Mr Wallace said.
When asked if the Taliban had changed, he told Sky News: “It does not look like a change.
“The leadership has a responsibility to make sure that it upholds human rights.”
The British Embassy in Kabul has now been evacuated, and Mr Wallace confirmed: “It’s not the embassy anymore, we have left that location, we’ve drawn down within the airport.”
Overnight, the US State Department also confirmed all its staff had 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.”