G20 leaders gathered on Tuesday for a virtual summit focused on addressing the emerging humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with the European Union kicking off proceedings by announcing a billion-euro ($1.2-billion-euro) aid package.
US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those to dial in the meeting organized by Italy, although Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent representatives.
As talks began, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced an aid package to help “prevent a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse” in Afghanistan.
The funding adds to the 250 million euros to 300 million euros previously announced by the European Union for urgent humanitarian needs, with the remainder taking Afghans fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, a statement said. He is going.
It insisted that EU funds are “direct support” for Afghans and will be given to international organizations working on the ground, not the Taliban’s interim government, which Brussels does not recognize.
EU development aid – separate from humanitarian aid – is frozen.
After the last G7 meeting on Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban in August, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was pushing for a wider discussion involving other world powers.
The G20 includes the United States, the European Union, China, Turkey, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday’s conference comes as the Taliban hold their first one-on-one talks with a joint EU-US delegation in Qatar, as radical Islamists continue their diplomatic clamor for international support.
– Terrorism hub –
International aid to Afghanistan has been halted since the Taliban returned to power following the withdrawal of US and other international troops after a 20-year war.
Country assets held abroad have been frozen, while food prices and jobs are rising, prompting warnings of a humanitarian disaster when winter arrives.
The UN and Qatar, a key broker in Afghanistan that has hosted talks between the US and the Taliban, were also invited to Tuesday’s closed-door talks, after which Draghi will hold a press conference in Rome.
The G20 meeting will also address the issue of security.
Draghi, whose country was a key player in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, said last month that leaders would also look at measures the international community can take to “prevent Afghanistan from becoming the epicenter of international terrorism again”.
The Taliban regime, which has not yet been recognized as a legitimate government by any other country, itself faces threats from ISIS-Khorasan, who have launched a series of deadly attacks.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)