EU has no choice but to engage with Taliban, says foreign policy chief

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The EU has no choice but to engage with the Taliban government in Afghanistan and will maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

In a speech to the European Parliament, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs said the bloc could only influence future developments by engaging with the new regime.

“Member state embassies have been closed and they are not going to reopen, but we still have a visible delegation – but not an embassy, ​​because we are not a state,” Borrell said. ” [It] can be used if the security conditions are right to discuss with the government more closely than by videoconference or messages.

Borrell described the rapid collapse of the previous US-backed government as a “tragedy” that proved “nation building” to be more difficult than former US President George Bush ever imagined. .

Spain’s former foreign minister said the EU would not recognize the Taliban government, but the bloc had a lot to gain from talking to the new administration.

However, the EU sets conditions for its level of engagement with the Taliban, including the protection of human rights.

“It may be a pure oxymoron to talk about human rights, but that’s what we have to ask them,” Borrell said. “To have a chance to influence events, we have no choice but to engage with the Taliban… to engage means to speak, discuss and agree when possible. “

Brussels and EU capitals are concerned about a potential migration crisis as more people seek to flee Afghanistan in the coming months.

Borrell said he was not encouraged by the composition of the new government, which includes individuals on a UN sanctions list.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan’s new Taliban-led cabinet, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said the government would not allow militants to use its territory to attack other people, but added that foreign powers would not should not interfere in internal affairs when asked about potential future elections.

Borrell told MPs he did not believe, however, that the number of people fleeing the country and entering the EU would match that which arrived after 2015, as Syria was embroiled in civil war.

“We don’t want to create a ‘pull effect’ but we want to protect a lot of Afghans who deserve our protection and we need to discuss with the Taliban how we can offer and make these protections effective,” Borrell added.

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