Germany sets conditions for Kabul presence, France questions Taliban intent

 9 hrs agoLikeAngelina Jolie pens book to help children fight injusticeRonaldo to wear Man U’s No.7 shirtHeiko Maas wearing a suit and tie: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a news conference in Doha, Qatar© Reuters/HAMAD I MOHAMMED German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a news conference in Doha, Qatar

BRDO, Slovenia (Reuters) -Germany is ready to resume a diplomatic presence in Kabul if the Taliban meet certain conditions, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday, but his French counterpart said he had yet to see positive signals that the group had changed.

“We want to see an inclusive government (in Kabul), the respect for fundamental human and women’s rights – and Afghanistan must not again become a breeding ground for international terrorism,” Maas told reporters in Slovenia, where he met his EU counterparts to discuss Afghanistan following the end of the international mission there and the Taliban’s takeover of power.

“If these requirements are met, and the security situation allows for it, we are ready to resume a diplomatic presence in Kabul,” he said.

Unlike Russia and China, the EU and most Western countries have closed their embassies in Kabul, reducing their opportunities to directly influence any new government.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Figaro newspaper that Paris would judge the Taliban on whether it allowed people to leave the country, enabled access of humanitarian aid, made a complete break with all terrorist organisations and respected human rights, especially for women.

“For now we have no signs that they are taking this direction,” Le Drian said.

The foreign ministers were following in the tracks of EU defence ministers, who met earlier in the day for talks also focusing on ways to prevent similar crises from spiralling out of control in future.

“There is a new reality in Afghanistan, whether we like it or not,” Maas said. “We don’t have the time to lick our wounds. If the EU is to play a role, which it should do, we have to act fast and very quickly find a common position on Afghanistan.”

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Robin Emmott; Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Sonya Hepinstall)

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