MoFA: European union opens embassy in Kabul

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) claimed that the European Union has officially opened its embassy with a “permanent presence” in Kabul and has “practically commenced operations.”

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the ministry spokesman, wrote on Twitter that the decision was made following a series of meetings and after an understanding was reached with EU representatives.

Balkhi added that apart from €220 million in humanitarian aid, the EU has announced €268 million in additional assistance and set aside a portion of this for teachers’ salaries.

This comes as the European Union announced earlier this week that it has launched multiple projects in Afghanistan, amid the dire economic situation in the country, to prevent a further deterioration of the situation and also to help the Afghan people cope with current problems.

The EU has said that the funds are set to support projects for education, health, and the livelihoods of Afghan people.

Meanwhile, the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the engagement with the Islamic Emirate is necessary, but added that that it should be conditional.

Speaking at a press conference, Borrel said the conditions for engagement consist of the five benchmarks that EU had highlighted in September, and the Islamic Emirate should make progress on those benchmarks.

“We share with Qatar the understanding that some operational engagement with the interim government is necessary, but without granting them any legitimacy,” he said. “This engagement has to be conditional on progress made by the Taliban along the five benchmarks that we defined back in September.”

On September 3, EU Foreign Ministers in a meeting in Slovenia set five benchmarks that lay the foundation for the bloc’s engagement with the Islamic Emirate.

The following are the benchmarks that the Islamic Emirate must reach: Afghanistan should not serve as a base for the export of terrorism to other countries, Respect for human rights, especially women’s rights, the rule of law and freedom of media, Formation of an inclusive and representative government, Allow free access to humanitarian aid provided by the EU and Provide safe passage for foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans

Borrel said he had spoken with Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about the situation in Afghanistan. Qatar plays a key role in the EU’s engagement with the Islamic Emirate, he said.

“As you know, Qatar plays a strategic role in dealing with the situation in Afghanistan on various tracks. It facilitates our interactions with the Taliban interim authorities, it ensures safe passage for those in need, facilitates the delivery of humanitarian support,” he said.

Borrel also said the EU will expand its cooperation with its partners in Central Asia, adding that Afghanistan is also important in that matter.

Borrel’s remarks comes as Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis, with food prices spiking upwards while the afghani plummets against the US dollar.—Tolonews

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