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EU to initiate regional political platform to deal with situation in Afghanistan

BRUSSELS, Sept 21 (KUNA) - The European Union Tuesday said that as a matter of high priority it will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan's direct neighbors.
The aim of the platform will be to help prevent the negative spill-over effects in the region and support the economic resilience and regional economic cooperation, as well as humanitarian and protection needs, said the EU's General Affairs Council, which is meeting in Brussels today, in a statement.
"The EU recognizes that the situation in Afghanistan is a major challenge for the international community as a whole, and stresses the need for strong coordination in engaging with relevant international partners, notably the UN," it noted.
"A minimal EU presence on the ground in Kabul, dependent on the security situation, would facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and monitoring of the humanitarian situation, and could also coordinate and support the safe, secure and orderly departure of all foreign nationals, and Afghans who wish to leave the country," said the statement.
It said that the EU's "operational engagement will be carefully calibrated to the policy and actions of the Taliban-appointed caretaker cabinet," and " will not bestow any legitimacy on it." The EU engagement will be assessed against the five benchmarks agreed on by EU foreign ministers at their informal meeting in Slovenia on 3 September, it added. The EU's five benchmarks are, Afghanistan cannot serve as a base for terrorism, respect of basic human rights, inclusive government, allow access to humanitarian aid, and allow both foreigners and Afghans to leave the country. (end) nk.aa