| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Germany’s Angela Merkel favours dialogue with Taliban

Underlining the importance of aid organizations being able to work effectively to support humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she supports dialogue with the Taliban.

Nato member states such as Germany, who fought the Taliban for nearly two decades, are grappling with how they can have a future relationship with the hardline group after its rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

“As far as the Taliban are concerned, of course we have to talk to them,” Ms Merkel said during a visit to the German city of Hagen.

“We want to get people who have worked for German development aid organisations in particular, and who now feel at risk, out of the country.

“We also want the international aid organisations – and Germany supports these very much – to be able to improve the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. There is drought, there is hunger, and it was a good signal yesterday that Kabul airport is accessible again.”

In recent days a handful of domestic commercial flights have resumed in Afghanistan.

Her comments came after a Taliban spokesman recently said that they favoured “strong and official diplomatic” relations with Germany.

Germany’s parliamentary elections are set to take place later this month, with Ms Merkel – a member of the Christian Democratic Union — stepping down after 16 years.

CDU candidate Armin Laschet is lagging in the polls behind the centre-left Social Democrats and its contender Olaf Scholz, who is the current finance minister and Vice Chancellor in Ms Merkel’s coalition government.

“Armin Laschet leads this biggest state of Germany very successfully. We can now make use of some of the things that the state government has decided on, namely simplifying and accelerating planning, and perhaps learn from that at the federal level, and somebody who can lead such a state can also lead Germany as chancellor,” Ms Merkel said, reiterating her support for her party’s candidate.