The Taliban have sought help in keeping Afghanistan’s airports operational during talks with EU officials during the weekend which also raised “grave concern” regarding the humanitarian situation in the country.

EU officials and Taliban members went to the Qatari capital Doha for the talks, which took place just ahead of two weeks of negotiations between the Taliban and the US scheduled to start from Monday, also in Doha.

The EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS) released a statement saying that “the dialogue does not imply recognition by the EU of the interim (Taliban) government but is part of EU’s operational engagement, in the interest of the EU and the Afghan people”.

The interim foreign minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi led the delegation from his side accompanied by the interim ministers for education and health, the acting central bank governor, and officials from the foreign, finance, and interior ministries as well as the intelligence directorate.

The EU delegation was headed by the EU special envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson, which comprised officials from the EEAS and the European Commission’s service handling humanitarian aid, international partnerships, and migration.

According to the EU statement the Taliban promised to stick by its promise of “amnesty” for Afghans who had worked against it during the two decades of Western-oriented rule till the hasty exit and evacuation by the US and its allies in August.

The Taliban side also reassured to permitting Afghans and foreigners to leave if they wish to, but “requested assistance for maintaining operations of airports” so that could happen.

The statement further added, “The two sides expressed grave concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as winter is arriving”. It added that the EU would continue providing humanitarian aid.

The EU side urged the Taliban to create an “inclusive government”, promote democracy, ensure girls had equal access to education, and prevent Afghanistan from serving as a base for any group “that threatens the security of others”.

It further suggested that, if the Taliban fulfilled EU conditions, that could make way for extra financing for Afghanistan’s cash-strapped new rulers but only “for the direct benefit of the Afghan people”.

The Taliban reassured them they would uphold human rights “in line with Islamic principles” and would welcome back diplomatic missions that had closed, as per the statement.


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