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Qatar agrees to be US diplomatic representative in Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL: In a signal of possible direct engagement with the Taliban, the United States and Qatar signed an agreement on Friday, setting the stage for Doha government to be the U.S. diplomatic representative in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani signed the agreement making Qatar the U.S. “protecting power” in Afghanistan at a State Department ceremony after holding talks.

Based on the agreement, Blinken said, Qatar will establish a U.S. interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan.

The agreement comes as the United States and other Western countries grapple with how to engage with Taliban after they took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as U.S.-led forces were completing their pullout.

With winter approaching, many governments realize they need to engage more to prevent the deeply impoverished country from plunging into a humanitarian catastrophe.

A senior State Department official said the United States would also continue its engagement with the Taliban’s political office in the Qatari capital, Doha.

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