Hunh. Biden's doing a virtual G20 summit on Afghanistan tomorrow pic.twitter.com/9hIRuVZV6S
— Oblivier Knocks (@OKnox) October 12, 2021
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will host a special summit of the Group of 20 major economies on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan, as worries grow about a looming humanitarian disaster following the Taliban’s return to power.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on Aug. 15, the country – already struggling with drought and severe poverty after decades of war – has seen its economy all but collapse, raising the spectre of an exodus of refugees.
The video conference, which is due to start at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), will focus on aid needs, concerns over security and ways of guaranteeing safe passage abroad for thousands of Western-allied Afghans still in the country…
Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20, has worked hard to set up the meeting in the face of highly divergent views within the disparate group on how to deal with Afghanistan after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Kabul.
“The main problem is that Western countries want to put their finger on the way the Taliban run the country, how they treat women for example, while China and Russia on the other hand have a non-interference foreign policy,” said a diplomatic source close to the matter.
China has publicly demanded that economic sanctions on Afghanistan be lifted and that billions of dollars in Afghan international assets be unfrozen and handed back to Kabul. It was not clear if this would even be discussed on Tuesday…
This comes after US/Taliban talks over the weekend:
The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country's new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said. https://t.co/L3lurWSy7s
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 10, 2021
The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday.
The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of August.
The U.S. statement was less definitive, saying only that the two sides “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.” …
The United States made it clear that the talks were in no way a preamble to recognition of the Taliban, who swept into power Aug. 15 after the U.S.-allied government collapsed.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called the discussions “candid and professional,” with the U.S. side reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on their actions, not only their words.
“The U.S. delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society,” he said in a statement…
US concludes first direct talks with Taliban since withdrawal https://t.co/ObYtZb6CTB
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 11, 2021
… The talks were held as Afghanistan faces what aid workers fear is a severe humanitarian crisis.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned at a donor conference last month in Geneva that the poverty rate was soaring and public services were close to collapse.
Some 40% of the country’s GDP – national output – comes from aid, according to the World Bank.
The US froze $10bn (£7.3bn) of the country’s central bank assets after the Taliban captured Kabul on 15 August.
For the poor in Kabul, the priority is staving off starvation, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen recently reported from the Afghan capital…