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Macron: France, European countries seeking diplomatic representation in Afghanistan

A Taliban soldier guards the runway at Kabul Airport, in front of a Qatar Airways plane evacuating people from the country. (Photo by Reuters)

Several European countries are considering opening a common site for diplomatic representation in Afghanistan following Kabul’s fall to the Taliban in August, says French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron made the remarks on Saturday in the Qatari capital of Doha at the beginning of his two-day visit to the Persian Gulf region.

“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.

Western countries have been trying to find ways to engage with the Taliban after the group took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as the US-led forces were completing their pullout.

The United States and European countries closed their embassies and withdrew their diplomats as the Taliban seized Kabul. Evacuees also included Afghans who were at risk such as journalists as well as people with links to France including civilian workers who were employed by the French army.

France has carried out an evacuation mission in Afghanistan, taking 258 Afghans as well as 11 French, some 60 Dutch nationals and an unspecified number of people linked to them out of the country.

“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,” Macron said, adding that security issues still need to be addressed.

In a statement late on November 28, following talks with the Taliban, 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.

The Taliban, who had previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, took power again on August 15 as the US was in the middle of a chaotic troop withdrawal. The group announced the formation of a caretaker government on September 7. No country has yet recognized their rule. Since then, the Taliban have been struggling to contain a deepening economic crisis.

Most of the international forums stopped their aid and assistance to Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power. Besides, the United States seized nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. The Taliban have repeatedly called for the release of the assets, but Washington has rebuffed the call, saying the new government in Kabul must "earn" international legitimacy first.

The United Nations says Afghanistan is facing “one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.”

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