NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:48
Outgoing Health Minister Kuipers regrets having his photo taken with a representative of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. This happened last week during a meeting of the World Health Organization in The Hague.
Kuipers had his photo taken there with Abdul Bari Omar, the head of the Afghan Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and a high-ranking Taliban representative. Omar posted the photo last week on X, and that photo went around social media yesterday.
“I didn’t know who this person was at that moment,” Kuipers writes on X. “This was a mistake, it absolutely should not have happened and I regret it.” The minister says he can imagine “that this is hurtful to many”. “We are investigating how this person was present at this conference.”
Abdul Bari Omar was also in Germany this week, where he gave a Taliban promotional speech at a mosque in Cologne on Thursday. According to the German public broadcaster WDR, about seventy people were present. The mosque association says it is shocked by Omar’s arrival. The meeting was reportedly announced as a religious event, and not as a political gathering.
The German Foreign Ministry is furious about the arrival of the Taliban official. “We strongly condemn his appearance,” it said. According to the ministry, no visa has been issued. “The trip was not announced to us. As long as the Taliban in Afghanistan continues to violate human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, we will not be able to maintain normal ties with the Taliban regime.”
The Taliban took power in Afghanistan two years ago. Since then, human rights in the country have deteriorated even further. Women and girls are no longer welcome in secondary and higher education, and female care workers are no longer allowed to work.