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Monday January 24, 2022

EU eyes Kabul ‘presence’, sets conditions for Taliban ties

We have to engage with the new govt in Afghanistan, which does not mean recognition, says EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

By AFP
September 03, 2021
A meeting of the European Unions foreign ministers in Slovenia — AFP
A meeting of the European Union's foreign ministers in Slovenia — AFP

SLOVENIA: The European Union countries on Friday agreed to establish a joint Kabul “presence” to help departures if security allows, laying out their conditions for stepping up engagement with the Taliban.

“We have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which does not mean recognition, it is an operational engagement,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, following a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Slovenia.

“This operational engagement will increase depending on the behaviour of this government.”

He laid out a raft of “benchmarks” that the new authorities would have to meet as the Taliban gears up to announce a new government after seizing power.

These included Afghanistan not serving as a base for terrorism, respecting the rights of women and the media, the establishment of an “inclusive and representative” government, and allowing access for aid.

In addition, he said that the Taliban must live up to its commitment to allow foreign nationals and Afghans at “risk” to leave after the US-led evacuations ended at the end of August.

Borrell said EU countries agreed to establish a joint presence in Kabul if security allows to deal with the Taliban and ensure the departure of Afghans the bloc had been unable to get out of the country.

EU diplomats have left Afghanistan for neighbouring countries or to return to their homelands.

On humanitarian aid, Borrell said the EU would look to step up its help for the Afghan people but would judge the authorities “according to the access they provide”.

The EU is also looking to bolster coordination with Afghanistan’s neighbours as it looks to stave off a large-scale flow of migrants from the country to Europe.

Borrell said that the bloc would look to set up a “regional political platform” with the countries around Afghanistan aimed at helping to stabilise the situation.