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Taliban govt sets terms for UN-hosted Doha talks

Taliban govt sets terms for UN-hosted Doha talks

KABUL, FEB 18: Taliban auth­orities said on Saturday their participation in UN-convened Afgh­anistan talks would be “unbeneficial” if certain conditions were not met, a day before meetings were due to kick off.

Special envoys to Afghanistan are due to launch two days of talks in the Qatari capital on Sunday, aimed at discussing more coordinated international engagement with Afghanistan.

The meeting is a follow-up to talks held in Doha in May 2023, to which no Afghans were invited. But this time, both Afghan civil society members and the Taliban authorities have been invited to the upcoming meeting.

So far, the nature and extent of Taliban government’s participation is still unclear, with officials saying a delegation was unlikely to attend if certain conditions were not met.

Recognition as sole official representative of Afghanistan is one of the conditions

On Saturday, the foreign ministry said it had reiterated its conditions to the United Nations.

“If the Islamic Emirate is to participate as the sole official representative of Afghanistan and if there exists an opportunity to hold frank talks between the Afghan delegation and the UN about all issues on a very senior level, then participation would be beneficial,” a ministry statement said.

“Else, ineffective participation by the Emirate due to non-progress in this area was deemed unbeneficial.”

A senior diplomatic source said that the Taliban delegation had requested a face-to-face with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the talks to present him with their position, and that they be the only Afghans at the Doha meetings.

The Taliban government has not been officially recognised by any country since seizing power, after the chaotic withdrawal of US troops in August 2021.

States have taken varied approaches to relations with the new authorities, with issues such as restrictions on women’s rights and security concerns as key obstacles.

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