Taliban under pressure to meet EU, US in diplomatic push
- The EU said Afghan leaders will meet EU and US envoys in Doha.
- US and EU leaders will seek assurances from Afghan leaders on issues such as free passage for those wishing to leave, access to humanitarian aid, respect for women’s rights and preventing Afghanistan from falling. becomes a refuge for “terrorist” groups.
- Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said his country wanted positive relations with the whole world.
DOHA: The Taliban will hold joint face-to-face talks with European and American envoys, the EU said on Monday, as Afghan leaders continue their diplomatic efforts to garner international support.
The new Afghan leaders are seeking recognition, as well as assistance to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, after their return to power in August following the withdrawal of American troops after 20 years of war.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to give more money to Afghanistan to avoid its economic collapse, but also criticized the Taliban’s “broken” promises to Afghan women and girls .
EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said US and EU officials would meet with representatives of the new Afghan authorities on Tuesday for Qatari-facilitated talks in Doha.
She said the meeting “would allow the United States and Europe to address issues” including free passage for those wishing to leave, access to humanitarian aid, respect for women’s rights and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for “terrorist” groups.
“This is an informal exchange at a technical level. It does not constitute recognition of the ‘interim government’,” she said.
The Taliban are badly in need of allies as the Afghan economy is in a precarious state with the end of international aid, rising food prices and soaring unemployment.
The regime, which has yet to be recognized as a legitimate government by any other country, is also threatened by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), which has launched a series of deadly attacks.
A meeting with the EU was announced earlier by the Taliban’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, days after conducting his first face-to-face talks with US officials since the US withdrawal.
“We want positive relations with the whole world. We believe in balanced international relations. We believe that such a balanced relation can save Afghanistan from instability,” Muttaqi said in translated remarks at an event. in Qatar.
Ahead of the talks, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc was seeking to step up its direct aid to the Afghan people in a bid to avoid “collapse”.
“We cannot ‘wait and see’. We have to act and act quickly,” Borrell said after talks with EU development ministers.
The international community faces a difficult balancing act in trying to get the aid the Afghans urgently need without endorsing the Taliban regime.
Guterres highlighted the discontent with the Taliban over their treatment of women despite vows that he would not repeat his previous hardline rule.
“I am particularly alarmed to see the promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban to be broken,” he told reporters.
Without the participation of women, “there is no way for the Afghan economy and society to recover,” Guterres said.
– Safety warning –
Afghan boys were allowed to return to secondary schools three weeks ago, but the girls have been urged to stay at home with female teachers across much of the country, even though they can attend primary school.
Asked about the exclusion of girls, Muttaqi said schools had been closed because of Covid-19 – a threat he said had eased.
“The Covid (…) has been controlled and the incidences are very rare, and with the reduction of this risk, the opening of schools has already started and it is increasing every day,” he said.
Muttaqi also insisted that there was no discrimination against the Shia community and also claimed that the IS-K was tame.
“Whatever preparations they made, they were 98% neutralized,” he said.
The IS-K has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Shiite mosque that left more than 60 dead on Friday, the deadliest attack since the Taliban took over power.
Highlighting the precarious security situation, the United States and Britain on Monday warned their citizens to avoid hotels in Afghanistan and chose a hotel in Kabul.
“US citizens who are at or near the Serena Hotel should leave immediately,” the US State Department said, citing “security threats” in the region.
The Serena, a luxury property popular with business travelers and foreign guests, has twice been the target of Taliban attacks.
In 2014, just weeks before the presidential election, four armed teenagers with pistols hidden in their socks managed to penetrate multiple layers of security, killing nine people, including an AFP journalist and members of his family.