19.08.2021 Asia

'There's no soft Talibanism': France rules out recognising militant rulers

By Amanda Morrow - RFI
LISTEN AUG 19, 2021

France says it will not recognise Taliban militants as the legitimate leaders of Afghanistan, in news that comes as the military transports a third planeload of evacuees from Kabul to the French air base in Abu Dhabi.

"There will be no political contact with the Taliban,” Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune told France Info radio on Thursday.

Beaune was defending Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who earlier came under fire for saying he hoped to see the Taliban form an "inclusive" government in Afghanistan.

“When you take power by force, you have no authority … there is no soft 'Talibanism',” Beaune said, adding that Le Drian had simply shared his hope that political talks taking place between Afghan officials could continue. 

On Wednesday senior Taliban members met with former president Hamid Karzai and senior official Abdullah Abdullah, who led the peace process under now-exiled president Ashraf Ghani.

The militants joining the talks were from the Haqqani Network, a key Taliban faction accused of some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan.

Image campaign
Since taking control of the capital on Sunday, the Taliban have sought to project a softer image to the world – promising to safeguard women's rights in their quest for international recognition.

Women have been urged to join government and have been told the “Islamic Emirate” – the Taliban's name for Afghanistan – does not want them to be victims. 

However despite a promised "amnesty" for government officials, and despite women and girls being given permission to return to school, thousands of Afghans have chosen to flee.

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday suspended aid to Afghanistan, citing a "lack of clarity" over the country's government.

Third evacuation
Meanwhile a third repatriation flight carrying French and foreign nationals was due to land in Paris on Thursday, bringing to about 400 the number of people evacuated.

The vast majority of those flown out by France are Afghan citizens, many of them women and children.

The United States has accused the Taliban, who control the area around Kabul airport, of blocking access despite promising safe passage for those wanting to leave.

Media reports say complex evacuation operations being carried out my many countries have been hindered by Taliban attacks.

Since Sunday at least 12 Afghans have been killed in and around Kabul airport.

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