For the first time since the withdrawal of Afghanistan: USA announces meeting with Taliban

There has been no official meeting between the US and the Taliban government since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. This weekend that should change: Representatives from both sides are meeting in Qatar for talks. Human rights should also be a topic.

The US and the radical Islamic Taliban have announced the first official talks since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As a spokesman for the US State Department said on Friday evening, a US delegation is to meet with high-ranking Taliban representatives on Saturday and tomorrow Sunday in the Qatari capital Doha.

“We still believe that the Taliban must earn their legitimacy through their own actions,” said the spokesman. It is so far unclear who will represent the two sides. A high-ranking US government official is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that this will continue the “pragmatic treatment” of the Islamists on questions of US national interest.

At this meeting, the USA wants to urge the new rulers in the Hindu Kush to respect human rights and free access for aid organizations. “We will urge the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support,” the spokesman said. With Afghanistan facing a severe economic downturn and a “possible humanitarian crisis,” “we will also urge the Taliban to allow humanitarian organizations free access to areas in need,” he said. The US also wants to insist that the Taliban guarantee the exit of US citizens and former local staff.

After the withdrawal of NATO troops, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in mid-August and have been fighting for international recognition of their government ever since. The US has been in contact with the Taliban since the dramatic evacuation that followed in Kabul. The announced meeting is, however, the first personal, official conversation between representatives of the USA and the Islamists.

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