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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Taliban officials hold meetings with US, other world powers in Doha


The US has ordered internal State Department reviews over Afghanistan evacuations.

A delegation from the Taliban-led interim Afghan government met with representatives from the US and other world powers in Qatar on Wednesday, the group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with German, Norwegian, Dutch, and Japanese ambassadors and representatives in the Gulf state.

Mujahid said that the acting foreign minister and the head of the US mission to Afghanistan Ian J. McCary had “in-depth talks” and exchanged views.

In separate meetings between the interim government and other world powers, the Taliban discussed current political and economic issues while calling on the international community to urge the US to lift sanctions on the wealth of the Afghan people.

Days after the Taliban took over Kabul on 15 August, the US froze around $10 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank due to the group being listed under the Treasury Department’s sanctions designation list.

The Taliban-led administration has since called on Washington to unfreeze the assets as the country grapples with an economic and humanitarian crisis, affecting millions of Afghans in the country.

While countries have yet to recognise the Taliban, they have been directly engaging with the group to address the humanitarian situation.

China pledges to help Taliban rebuild Afghanistan during meeting in Doha

Qatar has been urging the international community to avoid isolating Afghanistan due to its interim government as that would further worsen the situation on the ground.

“We cannot abandon a country because a new de facto government is in place…we cannot neglect the fact that there is a country there called Afghanistan that we recognise,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in a joint press conference in Doha on Wednesday alongside his Austrian counterpart Michael Linhart.

The Gulf state has facilitated dialogue between the Taliban and the former Afghan government as well as talks between the militants and the US. Despite the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani administration, Qatar has continued to host talks between all parties in the country.

Qatar has also facilitated the rapid evacuation of over 50,000 Afghans and foreigners since the Taliban takeover and welcomed the move of several embassies, including Washington’s, from Kabul to Doha.

Internal US reviews

Also on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he ordered internal reviews to look into the State Department’s handling of evacuations from Afghanistan.

The Joe Biden administration received particular criticism on an international and local scale for its chaotic exit from Afghanistan, all of which was conducted without a strategised peace plan following a 20-year invasion.

“There are many things that now, looking back, we can and should ask, ‘Could we have done things differently?’ ‘Could we have taken that step differently?’ ‘Should we have tried that idea first?’ ‘Could we have gotten to that decision more quickly?’,” said Blinken at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

The invasion of Afghanistan brought little change to the country, ending with a Taliban rise to power and a hasty airlift that saw the evacuation of more than 124,000 Americans, Afghans and civilians from other nationalities.

Some Americans and Afghans affiliated with the US still remain left behind.

“Now we owe it to ourselves, to our Afghan friends and partners, and to the future State Department employees who might find themselves facing a similar challenge one day to capture all that we learned, to study it, to apply it, to preserve it in a way that it enhances our future planning and helps us prepare better for future contingencies,” said Blinken.

Blinken’s announcement comes a week after Reuters reported that the State Department’s inspector general will be reviewing the end of the Biden administration’s diplomatic operations in Afghanistan.

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