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Taliban set conditions for participation in Doha talks

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KABUL – The Taliban government has laid down conditions for its involvement in the upcoming UN-convened talks in Doha, warning that their participation would be deemed “unbeneficial” if certain demands were not met. With discussions set to commence on Sunday, the Taliban’s stance underscores the complexity surrounding Afghanistan’s diplomatic landscape.

Envoys to Afghanistan are scheduled to gather in Qatar’s capital for a two-day dialogue aimed at fostering more cohesive international engagement with the nation. This meeting serves as a follow-up to discussions held in Doha in May 2023, where Afghan representatives were notably absent. The inclusion of both Afghan civil society members and Taliban authorities in the forthcoming talks marks a significant development.

However, uncertainties loom over the extent of the Taliban government’s involvement, as officials have hinted that a delegation may abstain from participation if certain conditions remain unaddressed. Notably, the foreign ministry reiterated these conditions to the United Nations on Saturday.

In a statement, the ministry emphasized the necessity for the Taliban to be recognized as the sole official representative of Afghanistan. Furthermore, it underscored the importance of engaging in substantive discussions with the UN at a senior level. Failure to meet these prerequisites, the statement cautioned, would render the Taliban’s participation ineffective.

Amid these deliberations, reports emerged that the Taliban delegation has sought a direct meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the talks. Additionally, they expressed a desire to be the sole Afghan representatives present at the Doha meetings. This move reflects the Taliban’s efforts to assert their authority on the international stage, despite lacking official recognition from any country following their ascension to power in 2021.

The diplomatic landscape surrounding Afghanistan remains fraught with challenges, as nations grapple with varying approaches towards engaging with the Taliban government. Key concerns, including the preservation of women’s rights and security considerations, continue to influence bilateral relations with Kabul.

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