‘Trust is gone’ EU lashes out at Joe Biden ahead of crucial trade meeting

Biden ‘has a duty to American people’ says Robichaux

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EU and US officials are set to meet in Pittsburg for the Tech and Trade Summit at the end of the month. In June, Joe Biden and Ursula von der Leyen launched the Tech and Trade Council aimed at rebuilding transatlantic relations after the Trump administration. But Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan soured the special partnership that could have easily been rebuilt with this month’s summit.

An EU trade diplomat told Politico: “You can not discuss the Trade and Tech Council, and transatlantic trade relations overall, without Afghanistan in the back of your mind.

“The trust is gone, and that has to be rebuilt one step at a time.”

There are also disagreements on the agenda of the summit with officials on the US side believing data flows across the Atlantic will be part of the discussion.

But Ms von der Leyen, EU competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager and economics super-commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis have all ruled out the possibility after the EU’s top court ruled that the EU-US data transfer agreement should be struck down as American law does not sufficiently protect privacy rights.

The US administration decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan earlier this summer – a move that prompted the taking of Kabul by the Taliban.

Foreign countries greeted the makeup of the new government in Afghanistan with caution and dismay on Wednesday after the Taliban appointed hardline veteran figures to an all-male cabinet, including several with a US bounty on their heads.

As the newly appointed ministers and their deputies set to work after they were named late on Tuesday, acting Premier Mohammad Hasan Akhund urged former officials who fled Afghanistan to return, saying their safety would be guaranteed.

“We have suffered heavy losses for this historic moment and the era of bloodshed in Afghanistan is over,” he told Al Jazeera.

Tens of thousands of people left after the Taliban seized power in mid-August following a lightning military campaign, many of them professionals fearing reprisals because of their association with the Western-backed government.

In Kabul, dozens of women took to the streets again to demand representation in the new administration and for their rights to be protected.

More broadly, people urged the leadership to revive the Afghan economy, which faces steep inflation, food shortages exacerbated by drought and the prospect of international aid being slashed as countries distance themselves from the Taliban.

The United States underscored its wariness on Wednesday.

“This is a caretaker Cabinet,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“No one in this administration, not the president nor anyone on the national security team, would suggest that the Taliban are respected and valued members of the global community.”

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The Islamist militant movement swept to power in a victory hastened by the withdrawal of US military support to Afghan government forces.

The Taliban’s announcement of a new government on Tuesday was widely seen as a signal they were not looking to broaden their base and present a more tolerant face to the world.

The Taliban has promised to respect people’s rights and not seek vendettas, but it has been criticised for its heavy-handed response to protests and its part in a chaotic evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul airport.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was assessing the Cabinet 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,” he said during a visit to a US air base in Germany that has been a transit point for evacuees from Afghanistan.

The European Union voiced its disapproval at the appointments but said it was ready to continue humanitarian assistance. Longer-term aid would depend on the Taliban upholding basic freedoms.

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