EU says will work with Taliban only if rights are respected

by Reuters
Tuesday, 17 August 2021 17:32 GMT

European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell are seen on a screen as they take part in an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council addressing the situation in Afghanistan, in Brussels, Belgium, August 17, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

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The statement came after an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers to discuss events in Afghanistan

(Adds EU foreign policy chief's comments)

By Sabine Siebold and John Chalmers

BRUSSELS, Aug 17 (Reuters) - 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, 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 https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/evacuation-flights-resume-kabul-airport-biden-defends-us-withdrawal-2021-08-17 of the Afghan capital Kabul.

He said that to address "the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan", the EU would continue to provide assistance to the Afghan people.

"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.

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.

"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.

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 a news conference after the meeting.

Starting a dialogue soon was necessary to prevent a potential migratory disaster and a humanitarian crisis, Borrell said. (Reporting by Sabine Siebold, John Chalmers, Kate Abnett, Foo Yun Chee; editing by Grant McCool)

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