- Title: European Union wins support to relaunch Afghanistan peace talks
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) STEINMEIER TALKING TO JOURNALISTS
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 10:07
- Keywords: Afghanistan EU conference Mogherini Kerry Ban Ki-moon Steinmeier Stoltenberg
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA00C52QAXXJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Regional powers have agreed to try to relaunch Afghanistan's stalled peace process after almost forty years of conflict, the EU's foreign policy chief said on Wednesday (October 5), as the West sought to raise some $13 billion to fund the country through 2020.
Facing a resurgent Taliban 15 years after U.S. forces helped drive militants from Kabul following the attacks on New York and Washington, more than 70 governments in Brussels promised more support, in tandem with NATO's ongoing military backing.
"I expect today to collect pledges from around the world at the same level, or similar level, to what the international community has mobilised so far. What concerns the European Union and member states, we will pledge 1.2 billion euros and I will expect similar levels of engagement from our partners. But this is not only about money," Federica Mogherini, who coordinates EU foreign policy, said.
While a multi-billion-dollar annual donor pledge looked beyond doubt, diplomats said, the European Union took on the more complex challenge of starting the first concerted peace push since 2013, bringing together the United States, China, India, and Pakistan at a dinner on Tuesday night.
"Yesterday night we found common grounds to support this process also with a regional perspective and the European Union will try to facilitate this," Mogherini said.
Taliban fighters penetrated the centre of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Monday, slipping past NATO-trained government forces almost exactly a year after the militants briefly captured the city, a show of force seemingly timed with the two-day Brussels donor conference.
Seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by U.S. airplanes and Afghan forces, Taliban strength raises questions both about the health of Afghanistan's 350,000 security forces and whether the militants have any interest in a peace settlement.
U.S. and EU officials have been encouraged by a smaller peace agreement last month between the Afghan government and a local warlord.
German ministry officials said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier planned to make future aid to Afghanistan conditional on Kabul's agreement to implement reforms and repatriate migrants.
Germany had planned to provide 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in help for Afghanistan over the next four years, but wants Kabul to do more to combat corruption, protect human rights and work for democratic and economic progress.
Ministry officials said Steinmeier would also insist that Kabul accept its citizens who had been denied asylum in Germany and continue to cooperate with German officials on broader migration issues.
Germany is one of the main donors to Afghanistan, where the Islamist Taliban group has made significant territorial gains against government forces.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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