Taliban meet with EU, US representatives

World Tuesday 12/October/2021 16:41 PM
By: DW
Taliban meet with EU, US representatives

The Taliban held talks with European Union envoys in the Qatari capital of Doha on Tuesday. A day earlier, EU officials said that representatives from the United States would also take part.

Ahead of the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc was looking to bolster its direct aid to the Afghan people in an effort to stave off "collapse".

"We cannot 'wait and see'. We need to act, and act quickly," Borrell said after discussions with EU development ministers.

What do we know about the EU-Taliban talks?

"Tomorrow we are meeting the EU representatives, we are having positive meetings with representatives of other countries," Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said Monday.

"We want positive relationships with the whole world. We believe in balanced international relations. We believe such a balanced relationship can save Afghanistan from instability," he continued.

EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali said the talks "are an informal exchange at technical level. It does not constitute recognition of the 'interim government.'" She said the two sides will discuss access to humanitarian aid and women's rights, among other issues.

Separately, the leaders of the G20 group of nations were also holding a virtual conference addressing the deteriorating situation in the country. As part of that summit, the EU promised €1 billion in emergency aid to Afghanistan to prevent what European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called "humanitarian and socio-economic collapse."

Von der Leyen emphasized the need to work "fast," saying, "we have been clear about our conditions for any engagement with the Afghan authorities, including on the respect of human rights. So far, the reports speak for themselves. But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban's actions.

German delegation holds talks with Taliban

The proposed meeting comes after a German delegation met with the Taliban in Doha on Monday for the first time.

The officials taking part in those talks included German special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jasper Wieck, along with Markus Potzel, who serves as Germany's ambassador-designate to Afghanistan.

Following the discussions, the German delegation said the Taliban government is a "reality." The group took over Afghanistan on August 15 as the US and NATO allies withdrew forces from the country.

A statement from the German Foreign Office regarding the meeting said the delegation focused "on the safe passage for Germans and Afghan citizens for whom Germany has a special responsibility," along with "respect for human and especially women's rights," as well as security-related issues.

The Taliban reportedly told the German delegation that the group is committed to protecting foreign diplomats and humanitarian aid organizations in Afghanistan.

UN warns of Afghan economic collapse

As the Taliban seek to bolster ties with the international community, the United Nations is warning Afghanistan it faces imminent economic collapse.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to "take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy" as much of the country's assets abroad have been frozen since the Taliban takeover.

At the same time, he slammed the Taliban's "broken promises" toward Afghanistan's female population.

"I strongly appeal to the Taliban to keep their promises to women and girls and fulfill their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law," Guterres said, adding that "there is no way the Afghan economy and society will recover" without the inclusion of women.

Now that the Taliban have regained power, there have been reports that Afghan women have been prevented from returning to work and barred from playing sports, indicating a return to the repression that characterized the group's rule from two decades ago.

That era ended when the US military invaded Afghanistan in 2001 — the US pullout from Afghanistan this year precipitated the Taliban's return to power.