German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called for dialogue with the Taliban as hardened Islamists finalize a new government that will set the tone for their rule in Afghanistan.
“We just need to talk to the Taliban about how we can get people who worked for Germany out of the country and get them to safety,” Merkel said at a new conference in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
“They are the ones we need to talk to now. We want to get people out of the country who, in particular, have worked for German development organizations and who now feel threatened,” Merkel said.
The Taliban took power in Afghanistan three weeks ago, prompting Western states to hastily attempt to evacuate their civilians and Afghans who had worked for their armies and aid organizations.
Faced with the challenge of morphing from insurgents to rulers, the Taliban now seem determined to stop fighting in the Panjshir Valley before announcing who will lead the country in the wake of last week’s withdrawal of US troops.
Afghanistan’s new rulers have promised a more “inclusive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup – although women are unlikely to be at the top.
While the West has taken a wait-and-see attitude towards the group, there are some signs of engagement with the new leaders that are accelerating.
Earlier on Sunday, Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the Taliban wanted “strong and official diplomatic relations with Germany.”
As early as August, Merkel had told parliament that the international community must maintain dialogue with the Taliban to protect the improvements made in Afghanistan over two decades of NATO deployment.
The chancellor also said on Sunday it was a “good signal” that the airport in the Afghan capital, Kabul, was back in use.
National carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic flights on Friday and some humanitarian aid flights have also been allowed to the country.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)