France Hosts Diplomatic Talks With Brutal Taliban Regime
In a rare move in France diplomacy, senior French officials invited Taliban officials to diplomatic talks in Paris last week. The move has put France at odds with other NATO countries who have refused to acknowledge the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. Senior French officials claim that the meeting was held to initiate peace discussions with the Taliban in an effort to stabilize Afghanistan. Yet France holds major oil and gas interests in the South Asian region whose productivity and ability to transport relies heavily upon Afghanistan. For example, French oil company TotalFinaEfl has a $2 billion (USD) deal for the largest gas reserve in Iran. Reports indicate that France is interested in building a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. Oil and gas interests have apparently superseded France's human rights agenda that has, until this point, refused to acknowledge the Taliban. Women's rights groups globally have urged that human rights abuses and the practice of gender apartheid imposed on the women and girls living in Afghanistan should remain a constant focal point of foreign policy matters and business in the refusal to officially recognize the Taliban. Only three countries in the world officially recognize the brutal regime: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates all of whom have questionable human rights practices.
Media Resources: Asia Times 20 September 2000