Taliban meet with EU and US representatives

(Archive) Afghan Chancellor, Amir Khan Muttaqi – AFP/Archives

The Taliban met with a joint delegation of the United States and the European Union (EU) this Tuesday (12) in Qatar, the same day that European authorities pledged to provide humanitarian aid of 1 billion euros to Afghanistan .

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today announced an EU aid program aimed at “avoiding a massive humanitarian and socio-economic collapse in Afghanistan” during a virtual G20 summit hosted by Italy.

“The Afghan people must not pay the Taliban stock price. That’s why the Afghan support package is for the Afghan people and the country’s neighbors, who were the first to offer them help,” detailed Von der Leyen in a statement.

The €1 billion package includes a remittance of €300 million already approved by the EU, as well as specialized supplementary aid for actions such as vaccination, shelter, safety of the civilian population and respect for human rights, explained the Commission.

– ‘Act, and quickly’ –

Talks in Doha between representatives of the Taliban, the EU and the United States on Tuesday were facilitated by Qatar, which for some time has housed an office representing the political representation of the Islamist movement.

According to EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali, these negotiations should “enable the United States and Europeans to discuss issues” such as freedom of movement for people wishing to leave Afghanistan, access to humanitarian aid, women’s rights and prevent the country from becoming a sanctuary for “terrorist” groups.

“This is an informal, technical meeting. It does not constitute an acknowledgment of the ‘interim government’”, explained the spokeswoman.

So far, the Taliban government has not been recognized by other countries.

The G20 leaders reaffirmed their pledge to provide humanitarian aid to Kabul, but also acknowledged that they are “very focused” on the fight against terrorism, according to the White House.

Italy’s head of government Mario Draghi, host country for this year’s G20 meeting, explained that the group contemplates “a general mandate” from the UN to oversee the international response to socio-economic problems in Afghanistan.

For Draghi, however, it is still “early” to recognize the Islamist regime, but he stressed that “some kind of involvement” by the Taliban will be necessary to get humanitarian aid into the country.

Above all, the EU seeks to prevent a “collapse” of Afghanistan, said the head of European diplomacy, Spaniard Josep Borrell, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.

“We cannot be content with looking and waiting. We have to act, and quickly,” he added.

“We want to have a positive relationship with the whole world,” said acting Taliban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, on Monday (11) in Doha.

“We believe in balanced international relations. We believe that these balanced relations can save Afghanistan from instability,” he added.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, urged the international community to donate more resources to Afghanistan to prevent its economic collapse, but also denounced the Taliban’s broken promises towards women and girls after the abuses committed during the first regime between 1996 and 2001.

“I am especially alarmed to see that the promises made to the women and girls of Afghanistan by the Taliban have been broken,” the UN secretary general told reporters yesterday.

– Priorities –

The return of the Taliban to power is “a reality we must take into account […]. The most important thing now is to interact with them,” said Mutlaq al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, today, as he dodged a question about under what circumstances the Qatari government could recognize the Taliban.

The Doha special envoy made these statements during the opening of the Global Security Forum, an event that takes place in Qatar in parallel to the dialogues between Europeans, Americans and Taliban.

“The priority now is the humanitarian situation, education and free movement” of people wishing to leave Afghanistan, he added.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and toppled the Taliban regime in response to the Sept. 11 attacks planned by al-Qaeda from Afghan territory. American troops withdrew from the country at the end of August, following an agreement with the Islamists.

The Taliban’s takeover led to the withdrawal of more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan who feared abuse or acts of revenge by the country’s new masters.

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