The United States will engage with the Taliban when it’s in America’s interest to do so, although it’s not yet ready to recognise the Taliban government.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Pakistan shared the international community’s concerns about Afghanistan and intended to preserve the achievements made over the past two decades.
Mr Price explained how the Biden administration intends to interact with the Taliban, saying, “There’s a distinction … between broad issues like recognition and legitimacy and practical engagement,”
“I think you’ve heard from us, you’ve heard from other governments, that when it is in our interest to engage the Taliban on the basis of our national self-interest, we will do that,” he said, adding that at the ministerial meeting “we heard a similar sentiment from other countries involved as well”.
When asked about Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan, Mr Price said Islamabad expressed its views during a recent ministerial conference co-hosted by the United States and Germany.
“Pakistan was engaged in the ministerial meeting, and we heard from the Pakistanis very similar sentiment to what we heard from other countries that participated,” he said. “There was widespread agreement, including from our Pakistani partners, that the gains of the last 20 years should not be squandered.
The ministerial meeting on Afghanistan was co-hosted by US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday. Pakistan and India, as well as a dozen other nations and international organisations such as the European Union, NATO, and the United Nations, attended the conference.
Secretary Blinken used his address to call for cooperation in avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe, holding the Taliban responsible for counterterrorism, ensuring safe passage for foreign and Afghan people, and establishing an inclusive government that upholds fundamental rights.
According to Secretary Blinken, the US will continue to “use economic, diplomatic, and political tools to support the rights of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, and to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism”.
Mr Price said that the participants, especially Afghanistan’s neighbours, committed to do everything “we can” to avoid the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan from worsening.
“And this is especially acutely held and felt by those countries bordering Afghanistan, knowing that the humanitarian implications could be acute for those countries in the region,” he added.
“That’s why the US was reviewing its bilateral assistance to the government of Afghanistan and has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” Mr Price said.
He said that the US had given hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people in recent months. The United States gave about $250 million to Afghans in June, and it increased to $500 million in July. Some of it is destined for Afghans who have been internally displaced.
“It’s an enduring commitment, felt dearly not only by the United States but by countries in the region and by countries well beyond,” Mr Price said.