EU says it must engage with Taliban, even if it does not recognise them

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Eu Says It Must Engage With Taliban, Even If It Does Not Recognise Them Eu Says It Must Engage With Taliban, Even If It Does Not Recognise Them
European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Photo: Getty Images.
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By Sabine Siebold and John Chalmers, Reuters

The European Union will have to engage with the Taliban to provide support to the Afghan people even if it does not recognise them as legitimate rulers of the country, the bloc's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday.

Josep Borrell outlined the EU's stance in a statement after an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers to discuss the Taliban's quick seizure of the Afghan capital Kabul.

He said the EU will only cooperate with the Afghan government following the Taliban's return to power if it respects fundamental rights, including those of women, and prevents the use of Afghanistan's territory by terrorists.

"Cooperation with any future Afghan government will be conditioned on a peaceful and inclusive settlement and respect for the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and persons belonging to minorities, as well as respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, commitment to the fight against corruption and preventing the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorist organisations," the statement said.

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I haven't said that we are going to recognise the Taliban

At a news conference after the meeting of EU foreign ministers, Mr Borrell said future cooperation did not mean recognising the group.

"I haven't said that we are going to recognise the Taliban," he said. "I just said that we have to talk with them for everything, even to try to protect women and girls. Even for that, you have to get in touch with them."

"We will put conditions for continual support, and we are going to use our leverage ... to make the human rights to be respected. I know that when I'm saying that it looks a little bit wishful thinking. But we will use all our leverage."

He said humanitarian aid must be maintained and even increased, but assistance will only go to the Afghan government if conditions are met.

Access to assistance

Mr Borrell called on all actors to allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to Afghan women, men and children in need, including to the large number of internally displaced persons.

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"The EU calls on the Taliban to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances. The EU will also support Afghanistan's neighbours in coping with negative spill overs, which are to be expected from an increasing flow of refugees and migrants," he added.

Mr Borrell said the EU's priority is to evacuate EU staff and Afghan helpers from Kabul.

"We have to get in touch with authorities in Kabul ... the Taliban have won the war, so we will have to talk to them," he told the news conference after the meeting.

Starting a dialogue soon was necessary to prevent a potential migratory disaster and a humanitarian crisis, Mr Borrell said.

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