Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern Wednesday that the newly-formed Taliban cabinet in Afghanistan is not diverse enough.
During a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Blinken condemned the Taliban for not keeping their word to form an “inclusive” government in Afghanistan. Blinken added that he is “concerned by the affiliations and track records” of s0me members of the cabinet, some of whom have ties to U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.
“Yesterday, the Taliban named a new interim government. We are assessing the announcement, but despite professing that a new government would be inclusive, the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates, and no women,” Blinken said.
“We are also concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of those individuals. We understand the Taliban has presented this as a caretaker cabinet. We will judge it, and them, by its actions,” he added.
The Taliban’s announced “interim” cabinet included hardline Islamic fundamentalist leaders, among them a terrorist sanctioned by the United Nations as the head of government and the leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Haqqani Network as interior minister.
The organization’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhunzada, announced the government would be committed to upholding “Islamic rules and sharia law.” (RELATED: Taliban Violently Breaks Up Kabul Protest Organized By Women)
Blinken stressed that the Taliban will not earn international recognition unless it moderates its behavior. The militants were only recognized by three foreign governments during their first tenure in charge of Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early-2000s, but more countries have expressed openness to having relations with them this time around, including Russia and China.
“The international community has made clear its expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government. Today, Foreign Minister Maas and I co-hosted a virtual ministerial meeting of 22 countries plus NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, to discuss the next chapter on Afghanistan,” Blinken said. “The Taliban seek international legitimacy and support. Any legitimacy, any support, will have to be earned, and we heard that across the board from everyone participating in today’s session.”
Blinken also addressed reports that the Taliban is preventing charter flights from leaving Afghanistan with American citizens and Afghan allies on board, ensuring that the Biden administration is doing all it can to get the flights out of the country safely.