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Taliban refuse to attend UN conference on Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL – The Afghan Taliban have opted out of participating in a U.N.-sponsored conference on Afghanistan set to take place in Doha, Qatar. The two-day gathering began on Sunday, hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres aiming to convene member states and special envoys to deliberate on engagement with the Taliban.

A statement released Saturday evening via the social media platform X by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed the condition for their attendance: acceptance of the Taliban as the sole official representative of Afghanistan. The ministry emphasized the necessity for the Taliban, referred to as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), to be acknowledged as such for their participation to yield beneficial outcomes.

While the United Nations extended invitations to Afghan civil society representatives and groups opposed to the Taliban to meet with special envoys, the refusal by the Taliban to attend has added complexity to the proceedings. Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general, highlighted the importance of including diverse voices, particularly those of Afghan women, in the discussions, prior to the Taliban’s announcement.

Expressing skepticism towards the inclusion of non-Taliban perspectives, the Afghan foreign ministry underscored the necessity for the U.N. to consider present realities and resist the influence of select parties to advance talks effectively.

The last-minute statement by the foreign ministry, clarifying the Taliban’s stance, brings an end to speculation surrounding their attendance. Earlier remarks from Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi’s office had hinted at a potential participation, contingent upon meaningful consultations and the fulfillment of responsibilities as Afghanistan’s representatives.

As the conference approaches, the absence of the Taliban underscores the challenges in achieving consensus and progress in Afghanistan’s ongoing discussions and negotiations.

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