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U.S. pushes Taliban to honor ‘general amnesty’ promises

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KABUL: The Taliban and United States wrapped up two days of meetings in Qatar on Tuesday, with the Taliban delegates asking U.S. officials to unfreeze Afghan state assets and remove sanctions and US officials urging them to honor their commitment for general amnesty for all Afghans.

The discussions took place amid growing appeals by aid groups to international donors to scale up financial aid to Afghanistan, where the United Nations says more than half the population is suffering from acute hunger this winter.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi led their respective delegations at the talks in Doha, Qatar.

Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said the two sides discussed and exchanged views on political, economic, health, education, security and humanitarian issues.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement released Tuesday, “The United States remains committed to ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not limit the ability of Afghan civilians to receive humanitarian support from the U.S. government and international community while denying assets to sanctioned entities and individuals.

“The Department of the Treasury has issued general licenses to support the continued flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support basic human needs,” Price said.

He added that the U.S. delegation “emphasized the importance of the Taliban fulfilling its public commitment not to allow anyone to pose a threat to any country from the soil of Afghanistan, safe passage for U.S. citizens and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, the protection of the rights of all of Afghanistan’s citizens, including its women, girls, and minorities.

Washington had said in the run-up to the Doha meeting that the focus of the talks would be counterterrorism, safe passage for U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans, humanitarian assistance and the economic situation of the country.

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