| 27 May 2024, Monday |

France, Europeans working to open joint mission in Afghanistan – Macron

Several European nations are collaborating to establish a combined diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, allowing their ambassadors to return to the country, according to French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.

Western governments have been debating how to negotiate with the Taliban since they took over Afghanistan in a rapid advance in August, just as US-led forces were wrapping up their withdrawal.

As the Taliban captured Kabul, the US and other Western nations closed their embassies and withdrew their ambassadors, prompting the insurgents to form an interim government whose senior members are sanctioned by the US and the UN.

“We are thinking of an organization between several European countries… a common location for several Europeans, which would allow our ambassadors to be present,” Macron told reporters in Doha before heading to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

The United States, European countries and others are reluctant to formally recognize the Pashtun-dominated Taliban, accusing them of backtracking on pledges of political and ethnic inclusivity and to uphold the rights of women and minorities.

“This is a different demarche than a political recognition or political dialogue with the Taliban … we will have a representation as soon as we can open,” he said, adding that the still needed to iron out security issues.

In a statement following talks with the Taliban a week ago, the European Union suggested it could open a mission soon.

“The EU delegation underlined that the possibility of establishing a minimal presence on the ground in Kabul, which would not entail recognition, will directly depend on the security situation, as well as on effective decisions by the de facto authorities to allow the EU to ensure adequate protection of its staff and premises,” it said.

France separately announced on Friday that it had carried out an evacuation mission in Afghanistan with Qatar’s help, taking more than 300 people, mostly Afghans, out of the country.

  • Reuters