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G20 leaders agree to advance Afghan humanitarian effort

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International aid to Afghanistan has been halted since the Taliban returned to power (File)

Rome:

G20 leaders agreed on Tuesday to work together to avoid a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, as the European Union promised a billion-euro aid package and host Italy stressed the need to maintain contact with the Taliban. Gave.

As the Islamic group holds its first face-to-face talks with the US-EU delegation in Qatar, US President Joe Biden, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and India’s Narendra Modi attend a virtual summit on the economic and humanitarian crisis posed by the Taliban. Happened. return to power.

The EU began the talks by pledging one billion euros ($1.2 billion), including money for immediate humanitarian needs and Afghan neighbors who were taking Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been pushing for a Group of 20 meeting, arguing the solution should go beyond the usual club of Western allies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend themselves, instead sending representatives, but Draghi insisted they all agreed on the need to help.

“Instead of answering and debating… we are now aware of this emergency and the G20’s enormous responsibilities to the Afghan people,” he said at a press conference after the summit.

‘Not delivered yet’

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 unemployment are rising, prompting warnings of a humanitarian disaster when winter arrives.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters, “Watching 40 million people standing because there is no electricity supply and no financial system exists, which cannot and should not be the goal of the international community.”

The United Nations 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.

The EU insisted that its money would go to international organizations working on the ground, rather than the interim government of the Taliban, which has not yet been recognized by any other government.

However, Draghi said the Taliban were critical of getting the aid, adding: “It is very difficult to see how someone can help the Afghan people … without some sort of involvement from the Taliban government.

“If they don’t want us to enter, we don’t enter.”

safe haven for terrorists

According to a briefing note published by Draghi’s office, the G20 leaders stressed the importance of respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly those of women and minorities.

He also addressed the issue of security the Taliban themselves were facing from ISIS-K, who have launched several deadly attacks.

“Afghanistan should not be a safe haven for terrorists and a threat to international security,” the briefing note said. Urged the Taliban to “cancel its ties with terrorist groups”.

A White House statement said the leaders “discussed the critical need to maintain a laser-focused attention to our enduring counter-terrorism efforts against threats from ISIS-K”.

Turkey’s Erdogan told G20 leaders in an address broadcast on national television that the Taliban “has not yet delivered what is expected”.

“We have not seen the necessary inclusion on humanitarian aid, security and the issue of making Afghanistan a haven for terrorist organizations and combating extremism.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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