London: The United Kingdom has welcomed the release of five British nationals who were detained in Afghanistan for breach of Afghan culture and customs in the Taliban-ruled country.
On Monday, the Taliban confirmed they had freed several British men after holding them for about six months. The confirmation came after British officials announced that five of their citizens had been released from detention. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said they were handed over to the United Kingdom on Sunday after a series of meetings between the two sides. In a Twitter post, the Taliban official said that the men were detained for breaching Afghan laws and traditions.
"We welcome and appreciate the release by the current administration of Afghanistan of 5 British nationals who were detained in Afghanistan," the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.
"These British nationals had no role in the UK Government's work in Afghanistan and travelled to Afghanistan against the UK Government's travel advice. This was a mistake. On behalf of the families of the British nationals, we express their apologies for any breach of Afghan culture, customs or laws, and offer their assurance of future good conduct," the statement added.
This comes after the UK government on Sunday said that it does not support anyone seeking to achieve political change through violence in Afghanistan and condemns terrorist attacks of all kinds in the country.
In an official statement on violence in Afghanistan, the UK government said, "The UK does not support anyone seeking to achieve political change through violence in Afghanistan."
Hugo Shorter, Charge d'Affaires at the UK Mission to Afghanistan in Doha said, "The UK does not support anyone, including Afghan nationals, seeking to achieve political change through violence, or any activity inciting violence for political purposes, in Afghanistan, and will not allow UK soil to be used to plan or prepare it, and we strongly discourage others from doing so."
"Violence of any kind is not in Afghanistan's interests, nor the international community's, and we deplore terrorist attacks of all kinds," he added.
To promote peace and stability, to deliver essential humanitarian support to the Afghan people, and to address shared concerns on security, there is no alternative to engaging pragmatically with the current administration of Afghanistan, and that is what we are doing, read the press release quoting Shorter as saying.
Earlier, the UK's former chief of defence David Richards said that the West will recognize the Taliban sooner or later and urged governments to be "magnanimous in defeat."
"I think the West is going to end up recognizing the Taliban government. If that's the case, then we'd better get on with it quicker, sooner rather than later. There's a great phrase to be magnanimous in victory. I think this is an occasion for us to be magnanimous in defeat," said Richards to a UK-based media, The Khaama Press reported.
Richards warned that it was time to accept that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan has been lost and that the US must start working with the new leadership for the sake of the Afghan people.