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Taliban are supporting UK evacuation plans - UK ambassador in Kabul

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British nationals and Afghan evacuees arrive on a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton, Britain August 17, 2021. Picture taken August 17, 2021. Mark Large/Pool via REUTERS

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LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Britain is working with the Taliban in Kabul on a "tactical, practical level" to evacuate citizens and eligible Afghans, Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan said on Wednesday, adding that the evacuation programme would last days, not weeks.

Western nations are scrambling to get diplomats, civilians and eligible Afghans out of Kabul as the Taliban make their first efforts to set up a government after their lightning sweep into the capital. read more

"It is interesting the Taliban have chosen to support this operation," ambassador Laurie Bristow told reporters in a television clip filmed from Kabul.

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"My assessment is that they see it as in their interests to help it to happen in an orderly and clear way. And, obviously, it's in our interests to see it that way, so we're working with them where we need to at a tactical practical level."

Asked how long he expected the evacuation effort to last, he said: "We're working on the basis of days, not weeks"

Bristow also posted on Twitter a photograph from what he called the "Evacuation Handling Centre" showing staff in military fatigues hunched over a laptop while an armed soldier looked on.

"Yesterday we got about 700 people out," he said in the video posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

"We're trying to scale up the speed, the pace, over the next couple of days, we'll put everything we can on this for the next few days, trying to get out everyone who we need to get to safety as soon as we can."

A spokeswoman for Britain's foreign ministry said that since Sunday, approximately 1,200 people had left Kabul on flights for the United Kingdom.

When asked on Wednesday whether Britain hoped to take 1,000 people out of Afghanistan a day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman told reporters they were "aiming to operate at that capacity". L9N2LZ00M

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Reporting by William James and Michael Holden; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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