| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Afghanistan: Germany, US wary of new Taliban government

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks Wednesday at the Ramstein Air Base in western Germany and hosted a virtual meeting with a number of foreign ministers from there.

The US base has been a processing hub for thousands of evacuees during the massive airlift from Afghanistan. Around 34,000 people were flown for layovers to Ramstein. Some 20,000 have already left for further destinations, a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

The two countries have sought to continue evacuating their citizens and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal.

Maas and Blinken’s meeting came as Western governments weigh how to deal with the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The two diplomats held bilateral talks before a virtual meeting with other foreign ministers and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Following that meeting, Blinken told reporters that he discussed with partners how to hold the Taliban to their commitments.

He also that the Taliban would have to work for the right to be regarded by the international community as a legitimate government.

“The Taliban seek international legitimacy. Any legitimacy — any support — will have to be earned,” Blinken said.

He also responded to criticism that the US administration was not making enough effort to facilitate further evacuations, vowing to put pressure on the Taliban to start charter flights out of Afghanistan.

“We are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground,” he said.

Blinken said the Islamist group was preventing some flights from leaving because some people wanting to fly out did not have the correct documentation.

“We’ve made clear to all parties, we’ve made clear to the Taliban that these charters need to be able to depart,” the secretary of state said.

Maas, in his turn, said the non-inclusive interim government announced by the Taliban was “not the signal for more international cooperation and stability in the country.”

“We hope that in the further formation of a government, which has not been completed, the necessary signals for this will be sent,” he said.

“It must be clear to the Taliban that international isolation is not in its interests, and especially not in those of Afghanistan’s people. A country with a totally collapsed economy will never be stable,” he added.