pakistan
Tuesday Jun 07 2022
By
Reuters
,
Web Desk

German FM Annalena Baerbock cuts Pakistan trip short after testing positive for COVID-19

By
Reuters
,
Web Desk
Germanys Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks next to Pakistans Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on June 7, 2022. — AFP
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks next to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on June 7, 2022. — AFP
  • Annalena Baerbock had met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari earlier today in Islamabad.
  • She has cancelled all further dates of trip, which also included stops in Greece and Turkey.
  • Baerbock had tested positive after she had noticed that she lost her sense of taste, said German foreign ministry.


BERLIN: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is cutting her trip abroad short after testing positive for the coronavirus on her first stop in Pakistan, her ministry confirmed on Tuesday.

Baerbock, who met earlier Tuesday with her Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto, in Islamabad, has cancelled all further dates of the trip, which also included stops in Greece and Turkey, said the ministry.

She tested positive after lunch after she had noticed that she lost her sense of taste, said the ministry. A rapid antigen test she took in the morning had been negative, it added.

It is unclear when she will return to Germany.

Following the development, Bilawal has gone into isolation and will perform official duties from his residence, sources said. He will get himself tested for COVID.

Prior engagements

Before testing positive, the German foreign minister addressed a press conference alongside FM Bilawal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she called for a united international call on the Taliban for change.

Germany will not recognise the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan as long as "dire" conditions under the group persist, Baerbock said. 

No foreign government has formally recognised the Taliban since they took over Afghanistan last August as US-backed foreign forces withdrew after two decades of war.

"When we look across the border the situation is dire," the German minister said.

She warned of a looming humanitarian and economic crisis in a country in which she said girls were deprived of education, women were excluded from public life and dissenting voices were suppressed.

"As long as they go down this path, there's no room for normalisation and even less for less for recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of the country, at the same time we will not ... abandon the people of Afghanistan," she said, adding that Germany would send humanitarian aid.

Taliban officials deny accusations of rights abuses and say they are working on creating conditions in which they will open high schools for girls.

Pakistan had earlier called for engagement with the Taliban, saying the world cannot afford a humanitarian crisis.

But the new foreign minister, Bilawal, said the Taliban should heed international community concerns on rights and security.

"It is our hope that Afghan authorities would be responsive to the international community's expectations regarding inclusivity respect for human rights of all Afghans including women and effective actions against terrorism," he said.

Baerbock called for unity to press the Taliban.

"The international community must stand united and together tell the Taliban loud and clear — you are heading in the wrong direction," she said.

Baerbock also said Germany and Pakistan had streamlined a system for bringing Afghan refugees to Germany via Pakistan and more than 14,000 Afghans who were particularly at risk had been able to travel to Germany over recent months.

The German foreign minister was on a two-day visit to Pakistan to hold talks with the national leadership on matters of mutual interests.

On her arrival at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FM Bilawal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, and other senior officials accorded her a warm welcome.

The German foreign minister along with FM Bilawal also planted a sapling on the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.