Sunday, December 10, 2023

EU mulls security, economic pacts with Afghanistan neighbors

The European Union (EU) says the block is seeking allies among Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Iran, in an effort to shore up support in the event the Taliban group becomes an unstable force.

Germany and France tabled a proposal that the EU set up a deal with Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan among others, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

“Special thought should be given to potential involvement of Russia, China and Gulf countries,” the document reads.

After the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan last month, there have been concerns by global powers that it left a power vacuum that could be filled by the likes of China or Russia.

The proposal goes on to mention Norway, Turkey, the US and the UK getting involved as financial partners.

The proposals were shared with the EU’s foreign ministries, and four topics were outlined: Security and stability, including counter-terrorism measures, migration and the prevention of human trafficking, humanitarian support for Afghanistan, and economic cooperation and development.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for an injection of cash into Afghanistan to avoid an economic meltdown that would spark a “catastrophic” situation for the Afghan people and be a “gift for terrorist groups”.

His remarks came after his special envoy on Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, warned the Security Council on Thursday that the freezing of billions of dollars in international Afghan assets to keep them out of Taliban hands would inevitably spark “a severe economic downturn”.

“At the present moment the UN is not even able to pay its salaries to its own workers,” Guterres told reporters.

“We need to find ways to avoid a situation that would be catastrophic for the people and, in my opinion, a source of instability, and an action, gift for terrorist groups still operating there,” he continued.

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