Int’l community must have talks with Taliban, says German chancellor

Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan ‘bitter reality’ but dialogue must be to preserve achievements of last 20 years: Merkel.

BERLIN (AA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called for talks with the Taliban to ensure that they do not reverse the achievements Afghanistan has made over the past 20 years.

“One thing is clear. The Taliban now are a reality in Afghanistan,” Merkel told lawmakers, during a plenary session at the parliament.

The chancellor favored diplomatic talks with the Taliban, but underlined that there won’t be any unconditional agreements.

“Our goal must be to preserve, as much as possible, the achievements of the past 20 years. For this, international community must have talks with Taliban,” she said.

Merkel acknowledged that her government failed to predict the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan, and has been slow to organize the evacuation of German citizens and Afghan support staff from the country.

But she promised to continue efforts for those who worked for the German army and development agencies, and those who need international protection.

“We will continue our evacuation operation as long as possible,” she said, referring to the uncertain situation at the Kabul airport as Taliban insist on their Aug. 31 deadline for troop withdrawals.

“In these days, we are working intensely at all levels to find ways to protect those people who need our help,” she said, and expressed hope that evacuations can continue after this deadline via a civilian operation.

The German military has flown out more than 4,850 people from Afghanistan so far, but thousands of more Afghans who worked for German development agencies and NGOs, human rights activists, and lawyers, remain stuck in the country, according to local media reports.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after taking Kabul on Aug. 15, forcing the president and other top officials to leave the country.

Following the departure of President Ashraf Ghani, former President Hamid Karzai, veteran politician Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah formed a council with an aim to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

The swift Taliban takeover led thousands of people to try to leave Afghanistan through Kabul’s airport, with the Aug. 31 deadline looming.​​​​​​​


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