July 20, 2021 8:03:14 am
The United States has warned the Taliban that any government that does not respect human rights and seeks to rule at the barrel of a gun will lack international legitimacy.
The Taliban militants have seized dozens of districts in recent weeks and are now thought to control about a third of Afghanistan, ahead of the withdrawal of US and Western troops from the country by September 11.
Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its NATO allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating in areas they control.
“The United States has for two decades now worked with the government of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan to support the hard-won gains, including those by Afghanistan’s women and Afghanistan’s girls,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.
The United States has played a pivotal role in this, he said, adding that the country has provided humanitarian and development assistance.
He added that the US embassy on the ground has and will continue to be a partner for Afghan civil society, knowing just how important it is, and knowing the gains that have been achieved over the course of the past 20 years.
“The point that we have been making is that any government that comes to power in Afghanistan, that doesn’t protect those gains, does not respect human rights, that seeks to rule at the barrel of a gun will not be a government that has legitimacy either on the part of the Afghan people or from the Afghan or from the international community,” Price said in response to a question.
The State Department spokesperson said the US welcomes the statement by Afghanistan and the Taliban, a commitment that the two sides will accelerate negotiations towards an inclusive political settlement.
“We certainly welcome that statement. We welcome that sentiment,” he said.
“We hope to see follow-through because, as we have said, we continue to believe that only a negotiated settlement can bring an end to 40 years of conflict that the Afghan people have endured. We urge the Taliban to uphold the commitment in the Joint Declaration, to protect Afghanistan’s infrastructure, to protect civilians, and to cooperate on humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Price commended the leadership of Qatar for bringing the two sides together, as well as the United Nations for its role.
“We continue to work alongside not only the parties whose discussions we are supporting in Doha, where they remain ongoing, but also Qatar, the UN, the broader international community, and crucially, Afghanistan’s neighbours,” he said.
He added that Afghanistan’s neighbours have to and must play a critical role in the process in order to help bring about a political settlement and to help effect an Afghanistan that is more stable, more secure, and more peaceful.
Further, Price said the Department of Defence has accepted the Department of State’s request to allow the use of Fort Lee, Virginia as the initial relocation site for the pool of applicants who are closest to completing the special immigrant process.
“These are brave Afghans and their families, as we have said, whose service to the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul, and who have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes. They will be provided temporary housing and services as they complete the final steps in the special immigrant process.
“We expect to begin the first relocation flights before the end of July, as you heard from the president,” he said.
Approximately 2,500 Afghans and their family members are currently eligible to finish the special immigrant processing in the US.