By RFE/RL Gandhara
November 19, 2021
Germany has sent high-ranking diplomats to Kabul to meet with the Taliban for the first time since the militia group took power in Afghanistan.
The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country’s special representative for Afghanistan, Jasper Wieck, and ambassador-designate Markus Potzel met on November 18 with high-ranking officials from the Taliban government. The delegation was accompanied by Dutch special representative Emiel de Bont.
“Both sides highlighted the importance of continued operational contacts on issues where practical cooperation is both necessary and possible, in particular to address the humanitarian plight of the Afghan people,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Western governments are looking for ways to engage the Taliban and address the country’s dire humanitarian situation but want to avoid direct support for the new government, which is not internationally recognized.
Similar to other countries, the German Embassy in Kabul was evacuated in mid-August as the Taliban took control of the capital.
The Foreign Ministry said Taliban officials committed to providing humanitarian workers safe and unhindered access to people in need, while Germany and the Netherlands reaffirmed their readiness to provide the Afghan people with extensive aid as winter approaches.
The diplomats also brought up the issue of women’s rights and education, including additional support for the education and health sectors. Under the Taliban, most girls in grades seven through 12 are banned from attending school and most women in civil service are prohibited from working.
The Taliban government “expressed their understanding that equal access for girls and boys to education is a national necessity for Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The diplomats told the Taliban that Germany and the Netherlands were ready to find ways for the salaries of employees in the health and education sectors to be paid directly through international organizations. Since coming to power, the Taliban has struggled to pay the salaries of civil servants.
The Taliban also committed to a previously announced general amnesty for anyone affiliated with the toppled internationally backed government and former security forces. They also repeated a pledge for free passage for all Afghans who want to leave the country.
“We have taken note of the pledges. Further engagement depends on their implementation,” the Foreign Ministry said.
With reporting by dpa
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