Joe Biden ‘ignored advice’ on Afghanistan says James Marlow

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The Italian leader called into question the very existence of the EU as he lambasted leaders in the bloc for saying they would not take in refugees fleeing Afghanistan. In a huge swipe at his counterparts in the bloc, he lamented “nobody has a clear strategy” on how to tackle the issue of migration.

The former European Central Bank chief said European Union countries had to do a better job on confronting migration issues and criticised those member states that were refusing to take in more Afghan refugees.

“The European Union … is still unable to manage such crises … some countries already said they don’t want any Afghans. How can you do that?” Mr Draghi said.

He added: “Europe, united by many principles, is unable to tackle the problem and this is a thorn in the very existence of the bloc.

“Nobody can claim to have a clear strategy at this stage. Nobody has a road map.”

The Italian leader said he still hopes to hold an ad hoc summit of the Group of 20 major economies on Afghanistan.

Italy, which holds the rotating G20 presidency this year, has previously signalled it was looking to call a one-off G20 meeting for the middle of this month.

Draghi said he would discuss the crisis with French President Emmanuel Macron later on Thursday and with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.

But any G20 meeting would not be held until after this month’s United Nations assembly, which ends on September 30, he said.

Austria, where more than 40,000 Afghan refugees already live, has made clear it will not accept any more people and Hungary – a traditional hardliner on immigration – has rejected any plans to accommodate large numbers.

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Underscoring Italy’s determination to make diplomatic headway on the Afghan crisis, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced he will depart on Friday for a trip to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Qatar and Pakistan.

It comes as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday that the European Union will engage with the Taliban, subject to strict conditions, but that does not mean the bloc is recognising a new Afghan government.

“In order to support the Afghan population, we will have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which doesn’t mean recognition.

“It’s an operational engagement,” he told a news conference.

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He said this engagement would increase depending on the behaviour of the government, such as Afghanistan not serving as “a base for the export of terrorism to other countries” and respecting human rights, the rule of law and the media.

Afghanistan would also have to form an inclusive, representative transition government, allow free access to humanitarian aid and allow foreign nationals and Afghans at risk to leave the country.

In the UK, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain will not recognise the Taliban as the new government in Kabul, but must deal with new realities in Afghanistan and does not want to see its social and economic fabric broken.

Speaking during a visit to Pakistan, Raab said it would not have been possible to evacuate about 15,000 people from Kabul without cooperation with the Taliban, who seized the capital on August 15.

“The approach we’re taking is that we don’t recognise the Taliban as a government,” he said, adding that Britain normally recognized states rather than governments.

“We do see the importance of being able to engage and having a direct line of communication.”

Raab’s comments reflect the balance countries such as Britain and the United States are seeking to strike in the aftermath of the Taliban’s lightning victory and the collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Western countries fear that a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and an economic collapse could create hundreds of thousands of refugees.

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