Afghanistan: The surreal scenes in Kabul as Taliban fighters take a 'softly, softly' approach

Watch ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine's eyewitness report from Kabul airport, where Taliban militants fired gunshots as a warning to Afghans trying to flee

The Taliban are now guarding a Kabul hotel that over the last 20 years they attacked frequently - they control the Serena, which also happens to be our hotel.

It’s Kabul’s best accommodation and only Taliban commanders get to come inside.

We sit beside each other in the hotel restaurant and exchange slightly awkward pleasantries through translators.

The Taliban commander at the Serena hotel in Kabul. Credit: Sean Swan/ITV News

At lunchtime I found myself recommending the Black Forest gateau to the Taliban commander in charge at the airport.

I had interviewed him amid the chaos there just a couple of hours earlier.

It’s surreal and of course I’m conflicted. The Taliban have been the UK’s foe for two decades.

Senior International Correspondent John Irvine on staying in the same hotel as the Taliban

I hope all the Paratroopers and Marines I embedded with in Helmand can forgive me for fraternising with their enemy.

But close proximity makes contact with them unavoidable. My team and I are on a potentially sticky wicket here.

The commander to whom I recommended the cake controls access to the most important airport in our world right now.

The Taliban appear to be mounting a concerted hearts and minds campaign both at home and abroad.

John Irvine talking to the commander as long queues bring the road to the airport to a standstill.

Neighbours like China, Iran and Russia have all indicated they will have normal relations in the absence of gross human rights abuses here in Afghanistan.

Will the softly, softly approach last? It’s far too early to know.

But as far as we can tell, during and since the fall of Kabul, the Taliban haven’t killed anyone in the city.

See more from John Irvine in Afghanistan: 'Here in Kabul, it has taken less than 24 hours to turn back time 20 years'