Macron says women’s rights paramount to G20 recognition of Taliban

World leaders will discuss how to respond to the Taliban at summit this month

A Taliban patrol is seen in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters
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France’s President Emmanuel Macron says world leaders at this month's G20 summit in Rome must unite to send a clear message to the Taliban on the conditions for international recognition.

He said the Taliban must offer assurances they will not align themselves with Islamist terror groups if the global community is going to see them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Mr Macron also said any recognition should be dependent on Taliban pledges that they will give women equal rights to men and allow foreign humanitarian and aid groups access to the country of about 39 million people.

His comments set the stage for the G20’s gathering in the Italian capital on October 30 and 31.

Delegates from 19 countries and representatives of the European Union will discuss how to collectively respond to the Taliban after the group seized power in August, 20 years after being ousted by the US.

In an interview with France Inter radio station broadcast on Tuesday, President Macron said there must be no acknowledgment of the Taliban government if Afghan women are not respected.

"I believe international recognition should have a price, and the dignity of Afghan women, equality between men and women, should be one of the points on which we insist, and should be a condition for us," he said.

Discussing the topics of conversations leaders will discuss at the summit, Mr Macron said: "We will talk about Afghanistan. We absolutely must, that's to say us, the Europeans, the Americans, China, Russia, the big powers of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America all together, we must have a very clear message that we will set conditions for recognition of the Taliban."

The Taliban want to be recognised as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan and last month asked the United Nations to give them a space to speak at the UN general assembly in New York.

Taliban representatives have insisted they have reformed since they held power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The Taliban say they will respect the rights of all Afghans, including minorities, but reports suggest otherwise.

Mr Macron also spoke about rising diplomatic tensions between France and Algeria, saying he hoped they would soon ease.

French President Emmanuel Macron, seen at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday, says women's rights must be paramount to recognising the Taliban. AP

"My wish is that is that we can calm things down because I think it is better to talk to one another, and to make progress," he said. He added he enjoyed “very cordial” relations with Algeria’s president.

On Saturday, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris, citing comments attributed to President Macron, who was quoted in the Le Monde newspaper as saying Algeria's rulers had rewritten the history of its colonisation based on "a hatred of France".

The following day, Algeria closed its airspace to French military planes, according to France's military.

The row comes on top of strains last week when France said it would slash the number of visas available to citizens of North African countries - sparking a formal protest from Algeria.

Mr Macron also met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as France and the US edge closer to rapprochement following the Aukus agreement that angered officials in Paris.

Macron and Blinken's meeting was the highest-level in-person contact since last month's controversy.

The White House released a statement shortly following the engagement that national security adviser Jake Sullivan would meet Mr Bonne in Paris later this week “as part of our ongoing consultations on shared bilateral and regional interests.”

Updated: November 22, 2021, 9:01 AM