DOHA: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that several European nations were considering opening a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan but stressed it would not mean recognition of the country’s Taliban rulers, foreign media reported.
Western countries have been grappling with how to engage with the Taliban, which took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as US-led forces were completing their pullout after 20 years of war.
“We are thinking of an organisation between several European countries … a common location for several Europeans, which would allow our ambassadors to be present,” Macron told reporters in Doha before heading to his next destination, Saudi Arabia.
“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,” he said.
The French president asserted that this initiative would not signal political recognition or political dialogue with the Taliban. In a statement following talks with the Taliban a week ago, 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. Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reporting from Kabul said given the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the Taliban were likely to “welcome any diplomatic moves that would help them out”. “This does fall short of recognition, people in Afghanistan understand that. But what is interesting is that as a member of the European Union France seems not to be just acting on its own in setting up an office … but could help bring other Europeans with it,” he added.