EU says provisional Taliban government falls short of promises

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FILE PHOTO: European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic speaks during a news conference

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union voiced disapproval on Wednesday of the Taliban's provisional government in Afghanistan after the Islamist militants named several leaders, saying they had not kept a promise to include women and other religious groups.

"It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks," said Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU's foreign policy service.

"Such inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government, and as result of negotiations," he said in a statement.

A senior EU executive official also expressed wariness about the Taliban's provisional government, which includes people under United Nations sanctions and wanted by the United States, even as the bloc tries to show openness to the militants.

"The European Union is ready to continue to offer humanitarian assistance," European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said, adding however that longer-term donor money depended on the Taliban upholding basic freedoms.

"We are looking very, very carefully at how the new government is behaving before engaging," he told a news conference following a meeting of EU commissioners.

Afghanistan faces the collapse of basic services and food and other aid is about to run out, the United Nations said on Tuesday, after the Taliban took control of the country on Aug. 15 and the United States and Western powers withdrew.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Robin Emmott, Editing by John Chalmers and Angus MacSwan)

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