Biden says Taliban must decide if it wants international recognition - interview

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U.S. President Biden speaks about the coronavirus response and vaccination program at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Taliban must decide whether it wants to be recognized by the international community, U.S. President Joe Biden said in an ABC interview aired on Thursday, adding that he did not think the group had changed its fundamental beliefs.

Asked if he thought the Taliban had changed, Biden told ABC News, "No."

"I think they're going through a sort of existential crisis about: Do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government? I'm not sure they do," he said, adding that the group appeared more committed to its beliefs.

But, he added, the Taliban also had to grapple with whether it could provide for Afghans.

"They also care about whether they have food to eat, whether they have an income that ... can run an economy, they care about whether or not they can hold together the society that they in fact say they care so much about," Biden said in the interview, taped on Wednesday. "I'm not counting on any of that."

He also added that it would take economic and diplomatic pressure -- not military force -- to ensure women's rights.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Chizu Nomiyama)

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