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World must ‘wait and see’ whether Taliban has changed, says mediator

“When they were in power for five years [from 1996 to 2001] there was no international recognition except by three countries: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan. The rest did not recognise them. But today it is hoped that [the Taliban has] changed so more countries will give their recognition.”

As it seeks integration into the international community, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, has said it would not carry out reprisals against people who worked for foreign forces or the US-backed government during the past two decades and that women and girls would retain their rights “within Islamic law”.

However, there is doubt about how much weight those promises after United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she had credible reports of summary executions being carried out in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighers patrol Kabul after reclaiming control of the capital.

Taliban fighers patrol Kabul after reclaiming control of the capital.Credit:AP

With female news anchors and journalists among those sent home from their workplaces and public figures being the subject of threats, the Taliban’s pledge of a less hard-line approach towards women is already under intense scrutiny.

Meeting virtually on Wednesday (AEST), the leaders of the US, UK, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada – the G7 – agreed that ensuring girls could study was one of the conditions for any international dialogue with the Taliban.

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The leaders are also demanding safe passage for anyone who wants to leave Afghanistan after the August 31 US withdrawal deadline, and for the Taliban to ensure the country does not become a haven for terrorism again.

“What we’re saying is Afghanistan can’t lurch back into becoming a breeding ground of terror, Afghanistan can’t become a narco state, girls have got to be educated up to the age of 18,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

The G7 hope the lure of unfreezing the more than $US9 billion ($12.4 billion) in Afghan government reserves held in the US can help convince the Taliban to comply with those terms.

But Mujahid said on Tuesday that Afghan nationals would be blocked from reaching the airport in Kabul because the Taliban wanted to stop an exodus of educated and skilled workers.

“We are not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore and we are not happy with it either,” the Taliban spokesman said.

“The doctors and academics of Afghanistan should not leave this country.”

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