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PARIS: World leaders were adjusting to the new political reality in Afghanistan Monday, the downbeat mood in the West leavened by a more pragmatic approach from some other powers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the return of the Taliban to power as “particularly dramatic and terrible”.

“It is terrible for the millions of Afghans who had worked for a freer society and who, with the support of the Western community, have focused on democracy, on education, on women’s rights,” she said.

It was also devastating for the loved ones of soldiers who paid with their lives in the NATO operation, she said.

‘A unified approach’

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country holds the rotating G7 presidency, called for a virtual meeting of the group’s leaders to discuss the crisis to agree a “unified approach”.

Before the previous Afghan administration collapsed, Johnson had said Friday the UK and its partners should ensure “the government of Kabul does not allow that country, again, to be a breeding ground for terror”. French President Emmanuel Macron took a similar line in a televised address on Monday.

Afghanistan should not once again become the “sanctuary of terrorism” that it had been until the US-led invasion two decades ago, he said.

Russia, China, reach out

Russia, one of the few countries not evacuating its diplomatic staff from Kabul, said it was suspending judgement on the regime.

Foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said Russia would decide on recognising the new Taliban government based “on the conduct of the new authorities”.

A Chinese government spokesman said on Monday Beijing was ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan.

Iran ‘monitoring’ developments

Iran’s new ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi saw the chance of something positive.

“The military defeat and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan should offer an opportunity to restore life, security and lasting peace in that country,” said Raisi, quoted by his office.

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