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Thursday, June 13, 2024  
06 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Afghanistan special envoys to meet in Doha

Two-day meeting will be hosted by UN secretary general

National and regional special envoys to Afghanistan are to convene in Doha Sunday in the second UN meeting of its kind in less than a year, with uncertainty hanging over whether Taliban authorities would join.

The two-day meeting, hosted by the UN secretary-general, will discuss increasing engagement with Afghanistan and a more coordinated response to the Central Asian nation, Antonio Guterres’ spokesman told reporters Thursday.

In the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in 2021, the international community has wrestled with its approach to the country’s new rulers.

On the eve of the convention in gas-rich Qatar, which hosted the Taliban during years of peace talks with the United States, the administration’s participation remains unclear.

The UN has extended an invitation to the Taliban authorities to participate in the Doha convention, following their exclusion from the first meeting in May.

A senior diplomatic source told AFP the Taliban government had said it will only if they are the sole representative of Afghanistan at the convention – excluding civil society representatives.

A second demand was that the Taliban government delegation meet with the UN secretary-general and be given an opportunity to present its position, the source said, on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of discussions.

On Saturday Taliban authorities said they had reiterated their conditions to the United Nations, emphasising that their participation in the UN-convened talks would be “unbeneficial” if those conditions were not met.

‘Significant opportunity’

The Taliban’s government in Kabul has not been officially recognised by any other government since it took power and the administration has imposed a strict interpretation of Islam, with women bearing the brunt of laws characterised by the UN as “gender apartheid”.

Many governments, international organisations and aid agencies cut off or severely scaled back their funding for Afghanistan in response – causing a serious knock to the already struggling economy.

The meeting in Qatar will also consider the recommendations of a UN independent assessment on Afghanistan, which has suggested recognition of the Taliban authorities be tied to the removal of restraints on women’s rights and access to education.

The assessment, backed by Western nations, also recommends the appointment of a UN special envoy, which the Taliban government has also rejected.

Ahead of the gathering in Doha, Tomas Niklasson, EU special envoy for Afghanistan, said the meeting offered a “significant opportunity to meet to hold meaningful discussions” and “engage on a way forward, based on the report, in a UN-led process”.

The UN’s Working Group on Women, Peace and Security said the meeting in Doha “offers an important opportunity for the UN, the Security Council and the international community to reaffirm that the rights of Afghan women are not negotiable”.

“Respect for women’s rights must be a core objective of the international community’s engagement on Afghanistan, and a priority agenda item for discussions in Doha,” it added in a statement.

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United Nations

Afghan Taliban government