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Engagement with Taliban will be conditional: EU

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KABUL: The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that engagement with the Taliban is necessary, but added that that it should be conditional.

“Conditions for engagement include five benchmarks that EU had highlighted in September, and the Islamic Emirate should make progress on those benchmarks,” Borrel said speaking at a press conference.

“We share with Qatar the understanding that some operational engagement with the interim government is necessary, but without granting them any legitimacy,” he said. “This engagement has to be conditional on progress made by the Taliban along the five benchmarks that we defined back in September.”

On September 3, EU Foreign Ministers in a meeting in Slovenia set five benchmarks that lay the foundation for the bloc’s engagement with the Islamic Emirate.

The following are the benchmarks that the Islamic Emirate must reach:

• Afghanistan should not serve as a base for the export of terrorism to other countries

• Respect for human rights, especially women’s rights, the rule of law and freedom of media

• Formation of an inclusive and representative government

• Allow free access to humanitarian aid provided by the EU

• Provide safe passage for foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans

Borrel said he had spoken with Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about the situation in Afghanistan. Qatar plays a key role in the EU’s engagement with the Islamic Emirate, he said.

“As you know, Qatar plays a strategic role in dealing with the situation in Afghanistan on various tracks. It facilitates our interactions with the Taliban interim authorities, it ensures safe passage for those in need, facilitates the delivery of humanitarian support,” he said.

Borrel also said the EU will expand its cooperation with its partners in Central Asia, adding that Afghanistan is also important in that matter.

Borrel’s remarks comes as Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis, with food prices spiking upwards while the afghani plummets against the US dollar.

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