The Guardian

EU has ‘no choice’ but to talk to regime

- Daniel Boffey

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

In a speech in 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.

“The embassies of the member states have been closed and they are not going to reopen but we still have a delegation that can be seen – just not an embassy, as we are not a state,” Borrell said. “[It] can be used if the security conditions are met.”

He described the swift collapse of the previous US-backed government as a “tragedy” that had proven that “nation building” was more difficult than the former US president George W Bush had ever appreciate­d.

The former Spanish foreign minister said the EU would not recognise the Taliban government but had much to gain from talking with them. The EU was setting conditions on its level of engagement, however, including human rights protection­s.

“Maybe it’s a pure oxymoron to talk about human rights but this is what we have to ask them,” Borrell said. “To have any chance of influencin­g events, we have no other option but to engage with the Taliban.”

Addressing concern in the EU over a potential migration crisis as more people try to flee Afghanista­n, Borrell told MEPs: “We don’t want to create a ‘pull effect’ but we want to protect a lot of Afghan people that deserve our protection and we have to discuss with the Taliban how we can offer and make effective these protection­s.”

Yesterday, the foreign minister in Afghanista­n’s Taliban-run cabinet, Amir Khan Mutaqi, said the government would not allow militants to use its territory to attack others but when asked about potential future elections he said foreign powers should not interfere in internal affairs.

 ??  ?? ▲ Josep Borrell said a lot of people in Afghanista­n deserved EU protection
▲ Josep Borrell said a lot of people in Afghanista­n deserved EU protection

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