Taliban and US delegates held “frank and professional” talks in the Qatari capital, a US official said, with the two-day talks focusing on security and “terrorism” issues, as well as rights of women and girls. than the evacuations from Afghanistan.
The weekend talks in Doha were the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on August 15.
“Discussions were frank and professional with the US delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged by their actions, not just their words,” said Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, on Sunday.
“The US delegation focused on security and terrorism issues and the safe passage of US citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society, âhe said. .
âThe two sides also discussed the United States providing solid humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.
Natasha Ghoneim of Al Jazeera, reporting from Doha, said the Afghan delegation called the two-day talks “positive.”
“They hope this will pave the way for recognition of the Afghan government – not just by the United States, but by the international community,” she said.
The Afghan delegation, led by Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, also came to Doha in search of financial assistance with any kind of international recognition, she said.
The Afghan delegation called on the United States to end economic sanctions and “unfreeze” some $ 10 billion in assets, she added.
The Taliban announced their all-male cabinet last month, but have struggled to govern amid a liquidity crunch after being cut off from international financial institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank.
The group said it had to pay government workers and provide services to Afghans amid the looming economic and humanitarian crisis.
Neither the United States nor the Taliban have indicated whether any agreements have been reached during the talks.
âWhat concessions have been made to get financial aid, what deals could be madeâ¦ we don’t know yet,â Ghoneim said.
The Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August, nearly 20 years after they were ousted in a US-led invasion for refusing to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 against the United States.
Ahead of the weekend’s talks, US officials told Reuters news agency that the United States would pressure the Taliban to release kidnapped American Mark Frerichs. Another top priority would be to force the Taliban to live up to their pledge not to let Afghanistan again become a hotbed for al-Qaeda or other armed groups.
US officials said the talks were a continuation of “pragmatic engagements” with the Taliban and “were not aimed at granting recognition or legitimacy” to the group.
Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a serious humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan.
They are trying to find a way to engage with the Taliban without giving the group the legitimacy it seeks, while making sure that humanitarian aid arrives in the country.
While the Taliban showed flexibility on evacuations, they said there would be no cooperation with the United States to contain armed groups in Afghanistan.
The 2020 US-Taliban deal, brokered by the administration of former President Donald Trump, demanded that the Taliban sever ties with “terrorist” groups and ensure Afghanistan no longer harbors “terrorists” who could attack Washington and its allies.
In turn, the Afghan group demanded that its top leaders be removed from the “terrorism list”, accusing the United States of violating the Doha agreement, which paved the way for the American withdrawal.
Since the Taliban took power, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), a subsidiary of ISIS (ISIS), has stepped up attacks in the country, targeting in particular the Hazara Shiite community.
ISKP claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers, in which dozens were killed.