Expect to have real, inclusive government in Afghanistan: Antony Blinken
The United States and the international community expects the Taliban to form an inclusive government with representations from different communities and interests, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
“As we've said and as countries around the world have said, there is an expectation that any government that emerges now will have some real inclusivity, and that it will have non-Talibs in it who are representative of different communities and different interests in Afghanistan,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference.
The Taliban is expected to soon announce the formation of a new government after the takeover of the country last month.
“We will see what, in fact, emerges, but I have to tell you that as important as what the government looks like is, more important still is what any government does. And that's what we're really looking at. We're looking at what actions, what policies any new Afghan government pursues. That's what matters the most,” he said.
The expectation is to see inclusivity in government, but ultimately the expectation is to see a government that makes good on commitments that the Taliban have made, particularly in freedom of travel, not allowing Afghanistan to be used as a launching ground for terrorism directed at the US or any of the allies and partners, upholding the basic rights of the Afghan people, including women and minorities, and not engaging in reprisals, Blinken said.
“These are the things that that we're looking at. And, again, not just us, many countries around the world,” he said.
The United States, Blinken said, is committed to looking at everything done from day one through the present and draw lessons from it. “I think that there also needs to be, including across the State Department, a look back at the entire 20 years to understand the entire course of this war and engagement with Afghanistan and to ask the right questions and to learn the right lessons from that,” he said.
Blinken said American diplomacy with allies and partners continues to intensify.
“That diplomacy has already produced a statement signed by more than 100 countries and the UN Security Council resolution that makes clear the international community's expectations of a Taliban-led government, including freedom of travel; making good on its commitments on counterterrorism; upholding the basic rights of Afghans, including women and minorities; and forming an inclusive government and rejecting reprisals,” he said.
The Secretary of State will be travelling to Qatar and Germany to hold meetings to intensify diplomacy with its friends and allies on the current evolving situation in Afghanistan.
“On Sunday, I'll be heading to Doha where I'll meet with Qatari leaders to express our deep gratitude for all that they're doing to support the evacuation effort. I'll also have a chance to meet with Afghans, including our locally employed staff from the Embassy in Kabul, who are now safely in Doha preparing for their journey to the United States,” he said.
From there, Blinken will be heading to Ramstein Air Base in Germany where, he will have a chance to meet Afghans awaiting processing to head to the US and the Americans who are staffing that effort.
“I'll also meet with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, and we'll hold a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan with him live and then virtually with other partners that'll include more than 20 countries that all have a stake in helping to relocate and resettle Afghans and in holding the Taliban to their commitments,” he said.
Later, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson told reporters that Blinken has no plans to meet the Taliban leadership in Doha.
“There's currently no plans to do any meetings with the Taliban in Doha. This is very much focused on our relationship with Qatar, thanking them for the incredible support that they've given, as well as on the German side. That'll be a fundamental message throughout the trip,” he said.
The US, he said, is watching very carefully and closely the evolving developments in Afghanistan.
“I think it’s too early to make a firm judgment. Reports that we receive of violations of basic human rights and particularly reports about restrictions on women, girls, anything of that nature is of great concern and something we would definitely continue to raise,” he said.
“At the same time, I would note that there was cooperation with the Taliban in order to affect the huge operation of the last few weeks, and so I think as we’ve said, the Taliban has made some good statements – or some positive statements is a better way to say it – but their actions are what is going to matter,” he said.
“We are going to continue to really assess that. And I think even more broadly than that is they’re not just the actions of any one individual but their ability to ensure that across the country they live up to their commitments that they’ve made,” Thompson said.