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Germany’s Merkel says talks with Taliban must continue to evacuate more people

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called for a dialogue with the Taliban as the hardline Islamists finalise a new government that will set the tone for their rule in Afghanistan.

Germany's Merkel says talks with Taliban must continue to evacuate more people
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a joint press conference with the North Rhine-Westphalia's State Premier and Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union's (CDU) chancellor candidate after visiting flood-hit regions in Hagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany on September 5th, 2021. Bernd Lauter / AFP

“We simply have to talk to the Taliban about how we can get people who have worked for Germany out of the country and bring them to safety,” Merkel told a press conference in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

“They are the ones we have to talk to now. We want to get people out of the country who have worked for German development organisations in particular and who now feel threatened,” Merkel said.

The Taliban swooped into power in Afghanistan three weeks ago, prompting a hurried effort by Western states to evacuate their citizens and Afghans who had worked for their armies and aid organisations.

Facing the challenge of morphing from insurgents to rulers, the Taliban appear determined to snuff out fighting in the Panjshir valley before announcing who will lead the country in the aftermath of last week’s US troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan’s new rulers have promised a more “inclusive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic make-up — though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the group, there are some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.

Earlier on Sunday, Taliban chief spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid had told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the Taliban wanted “strong and official diplomatic relations with Germany”.

The Taliban would also like financial support, humanitarian aid and cooperation in health, agriculture and education from Germany, as well as other countries.

Mujahid also said that Germans were always welcome in Afghanistan.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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