Senior Taliban officials and US officials have discussed “opening a new page” in their country’s relations as talks begin in Qatar. The news was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.
Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, said the focus of the Afghan delegation was humanitarian aid, as well as the implementation of the agreement the Taliban signed with Washington last year, which paved the way for the final US withdrawal.
The minister said the Afghan delegation has asked the US to lift its ban on Afghanistan’s central bank reserves. He added that the US would provide Afghans with COVID-19 vaccines.
The Taliban delegation will later meet with representatives from the European Union.
A US State Department spokesman said Friday night that the talks were not about recognizing or legitimizing the Taliban as Afghanistan’s leaders, but are a continuation of pragmatic talks on issues of national interest to the US. He said the priority was the continued safe departure of Afghans, US citizens and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan, adding that another goal was to encourage the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to formed an inclusive government with support.
The State Department did not say who would travel to the Qatari capital from the US side.
The personal meetings that began in Doha on Saturday are the first since US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August – ending a 20-year military presence – and the rise of the Taliban to power.
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