EU: we'll have to talk to the Taliban even if we don't recognise them

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European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell are seen on a screen as they take part in an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council addressing the situation in Afghanistan, in Brussels, Belgium, August 17, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

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BRUSSELS, Aug 17 (Reuters) - The European Union will have to engage with the Taliban to provide support to the Afghan people even if it does not recognise them as legitimate rulers of the country, the bloc's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday.

"I haven't said that we are going to recognise the Taliban," Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers. "I just said that we have to talk with them for everything, even to try to protect women and girls. Even for that, you have to get in touch with them."

"We will put conditions for continual support, and we are going to use our leverage ... to make the human rights to be respected. I know that when I'm saying that it looks a little bit wishful thinking. But we will use all our leverage."

He said humanitarian aid must be maintain and even increased, but assistance will only go to the Afghan government if conditions are met.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett, writing by John Chalmers; editing by Foo Yun Chee

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