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EU intends to continue talks with Taliban after two-day negotiations

Chief of the Taliban’s delegation Abdul Salam Hanafi on October 20, 2021 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]
Chief of the Taliban’s delegation Abdul Salam Hanafi on October 20, 2021 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union reaffirmed, on Monday, its willingness to continue talks with the Taliban to reassure delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghan people after a first round of negations with the Afghan interim government over the weekend, Anadolu News Agency reports.

"We will continue the talks, we will continue to engage with the Taliban to be able to make sure that we can actually provide the humanitarian access to Afghanistan," Nabila Massrali, the European Commission's spokesperson in charge of foreign affairs, said at a press conference.

"We will see the actions after these talks," she added referring to the two-day negotiations between EU officials and members of the Taliban's interim Afghan government in Doha, Qatar.

Massrali also explained that EU officials were currently assessing the possibility of reopening the bloc's diplomatic mission in Kabul.

"Once the security situation is appropriate, we will make sure that we have a presence there," she added.

In a statement released after the end of talks on late Sunday, the European Commission stressed that the "dialogue does not imply recognition by the EU of the interim government but is part of EU's operational engagement, in the interest of the EU and the Afghan people."

Both sides agreed on the necessity to deliver assistance to Afghan people amid the worsening humanitarian situation with the arrival of winter.

The Afghan delegation promised to provide equal access for men, women, and children to foreign aid and not to tax the assistance.

On top of humanitarian aid, the EU delegation showed willingness to channel substantial financial aid for the direct benefit to Afghan people exclusively, through international organisations to ensure basic public services like education, healthcare.

READ: Afghanistan's banking system in 'disarray'

The financial support is strictly conditioned to the fulfilment of the bloc's five benchmarks set in September that stipulate, among others, equal access to education for boys and girls with an internationally recognised curriculum and minority protection.

Both parties agreed on the importance of keeping Afghan airports open for which the Taliban asked international help.

The Afghan delegation also reiterated that anyone could leave the country if they wished to do so.

According to the statement, they also showed commitment towards rule of law and good governance, while the EU called on them to form an inclusive government that reflected "the richness of Afghan society in terms of ethnic, political and religious affiliation and with both women and men in senior positions, and which should pave the way for national reconciliation."

In line with the EU's five criteria, the Taliban delegation committed to fight terrorism and to maintain the respect of human rights in line with their religious principles.

The Afghan delegation welcomed diplomatic presence in the country, and invited the EU staff to return, while promising to respect international law regarding diplomatic missions.

The bloc said security conditions will determine a minimum presence in Kabul, which would not imply recognition.

In October, the European Commission pledged a €1 billion ($1.13 billion) support package for Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries.

The support is conditioned to "the five-benchmark policy" announced by EU foreign policy chief,  Josep Borrell, in September.

The conditions require the fight against international terrorism, respect for human rights, especially women's rights, the establishment of an inclusive and representative government, free access for humanitarian aid, and granting free departure for foreign citizens and Afghans at risk.

18 million Afghans, half the country, need humanitarian assistance and roughly 3 million are internally displaced - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

18 million Afghans, half the country, need humanitarian assistance and roughly 3 million are internally displaced – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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