The US could recognize the Taliban as the governors of Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said on Monday – provided they respect human rights and have women in their government.
In remarks that raised eyebrows, Ned Price said that the door was open to the Islamists.
The Taliban enforced draconian restrictions on women when they ruled the country from 1996-2001, forcing them to be fully veiled and severely restricting their movements.
In July, as the Taliban took control of Kandahar, nine women working at Azizi Bank were told to leave and send male relatives to do their jobs instead, Al Jazeera reported.
Yet Price on Monday said the US wanted to see the conditions of a United Nations declaration met, which demanded women be allowed in government.
Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, said that the U.S. would be prepared to recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan – provided they had women in their political ranks
Thousands of Afghans rushed to the airport in Kabul on Monday, desperate to flee the country. Children are pictured being lifted over the walls to try and escape their homeland
Hundreds of Afghans are seen inside RCH 871, which took off from Kabul
The UN is calling for ‘an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative – including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.’
Price said that the US government would recognize a potential new government of Afghanistan so long as that government was inclusive.
‘The fact is that a future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people, that doesn’t harbor terrorists, and that protects the basic rights of its people, including the basic fundamental rights of half of its population, its women and girls, that is a government that we would be able to work with,’ he said.
He did not say how the Taliban could convince the US government that it has reformed itself in this way, or why he thought the Taliban would change their ideology.
Joe Biden on Monday night said that he stood by his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan
‘Ultimately when it comes to our posture towards any future government in Afghanistan, it will depend upon the actions of that government. It will depend upon the actions of the Taliban,’ he said.
‘A future Afghan government that upholds the basic rights of its people, that doesn’t harbor terrorists and that protects the basic rights of its people including the basic fundamental rights of half of its population – its women and girls – that is a government we would be able to work with.’
Price said that the U.S. had fulfilled the objective of the 2001 invasion – to ‘decimate the network that conceived of and launched’ the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He said that US forces would still have ‘over the horizon’ capabilities to fight terrorism after the War in Afghanistan ends, meaning air support.
Price claimed that it was clear ‘the government of Afghanistan would not have endured 20 years were it not for the broad and generous support of the United States and the world.’
While the Taliban has taken the presidential palace in Kabul, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country, Price insisted that ‘there has not been a formal transfer of power.’
Taliban soldiers are seen standing on a Hummer in Kabul on Monday, the day after the capital fell
Members of the Taliban are seen inside the presidential palace in Kabul, in images shown on Al Jazeera
A wounded Afghan man sits in a car by the airport in Kabul, amid chaotic scenes as people try to flee
‘The situation will continue to remain fluid in the coming hours and likely the coming days. Nevertheless we are operating on all fronts and around the clock to protect our people, those who have worked side by side with the United States for years, and other vulnerable Afghans,’ Price declared.
He said the safety and security of American diplomats ‘will remain our top priority.’
Price said that Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, spoke with diplomats from Russia, China, Pakistan, Britain, NATO, Turkey, and the European Union.
He said that the US negotiator on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, remained in the Taliban’s diplomatic base of Qatar and that US officials have been in talks with the militants in the Gulf state.
The Taliban on Sunday took over Kabul with surprising ease, overthrowing a government backed by a two-decade military involvement that President Joe Biden has ended.
The Taliban imposed draconian rules on women during its 1996-2001 rule ended by a US invasion including banning education for girls.