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Austria plans aid conference for Afghanistan's neighbours

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By Reuters

ZURICH – Austria plans to hold an aid conference at the end of this month or in early September to support Afghanistan’s central Asian neighbours, government officials were quoted on Sunday as saying.

Taliban insurgents entered the Afghanistan capital Kabul on Sunday, an interior ministry official said, after rapidly seizing control of most of the country.

The Austrian online conference will also include other unspecified European Union members, the APA news agency said, citing the foreign ministry.

“Aid on the ground can only work in unison with partners on the ground,” APA quoted Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg as saying. “Conflict and instability in the region will sooner or later spill over to Europe and thus to Austria.”

Austria was one of six EU countries that insisted this month on their right to forcibly deport rejected Afghan asylum seekers. It has stuck to its hard line even as some other nations changed course given the developments in Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer was quoted as saying a holistic approach was needed to stem illegal migration towards Europe. The goal of the conference was to support Afghanistan’s neighbouring states while preventing human traffickers from profiting from people’s suffering, he said.