German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called for a dialogue with the Taliban as the hardline Islamists finalise a new government that will set the tone for their rule in Afghanistan.
“We simply have to talk to the Taliban about how we can get people who have worked for Germany out of the country and bring them to safety,” Merkel told a new conference in North Rhine-Westphalia state.
“They are the ones we have to talk to now. We want to get people out of the country who have worked for German development organisations in particular and who now feel threatened,” Merkel said.
The Taliban swooped into power in Afghanistan three weeks ago, prompting a hurried effort by Western states to evacuate their citizens and Afghans who had worked for their armies and aid organisations.
Facing the challenge of morphing from insurgents to rulers, the Taliban now appear determined to snuff out fighting in the Panjshir valley before announcing who will lead the country in the aftermath of last week’s US troop withdrawal.
Afghanistan’s new rulers have promised a more “inclusive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup — though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.
While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the group, there are some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.
Earlier on Sunday, Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the Taliban wanted “strong and official diplomatic relations with Germany”.
Already in August, Merkel had told parliament that the international community had to maintain dialogue with the Taliban if it was to protect improvements made in Afghanistan during two decades of NATO deployment.
The chancellor also said Sunday it was a “good signal” that the airport in the Afghan capital Kabul was in use again.
The country’s flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic trips on Friday and some humanitarian aid flights have also been allowed into the country.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)