The European Union (EU) said on Monday that the Taliban would hold direct face-to-face talks with European and US ambassadors as radical Islamists continue their diplomatic drive for international support.
The new rulers of Afghanistan are seeking recognition and help in averting a humanitarian catastrophe after they returned to power in August following the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for more money to be donated to the world to stem Afghanistan’s economic collapse.
EU spokeswoman Nabila Masrali said officials from the United States and Europe would meet with representatives of the new Afghan authorities in Doha on Tuesday for talks organized by Qatar.
The meeting “will pave the way for free movement of people seeking to leave the United States and Europe, respect for humanitarian aid, respect for women’s rights and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for” terrorist “groups.
“This is an informal exchange at the technical level. It does not recognize the ‘interim government’,” he said.
The Taliban need allies as Afghanistan’s economy suspends international aid, rising food prices and rising unemployment.
The regime also faces threats from ISIS-K, which has carried out a series of deadly attacks, while no other country has yet recognized it as a legitimate state.
Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaki announced a meeting with European officials.
“We want positive relations with the whole world. We believe in balanced international relations. We hope that such a balanced relationship will save Afghanistan from instability,” Mutaki said at an event in Qatar.
Ahead of the talks, EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borel said he wanted to strengthen its direct assistance to the people of Afghanistan in an effort to prevent a “collapse”.
“We can’t wait and see. We need to act, we need to act quickly,” Borel said after discussions with EU development ministers.
The international community is facing a serious balancing act in seeking urgently needed aid to Afghanistan without the approval of the Taliban regime.
Guterres underscored his dissatisfaction with the Taliban’s treatment of women.
“I am very scared to see the Taliban’s promises to women and girls in Afghanistan being violated,” he told reporters.
“There is no way to restore the Afghan economy and society without the participation of women,” Guterres said.
– Security Alert –
Boys from Afghanistan were allowed to return to middle schools three weeks ago, but were told to stay home with female teachers in most parts of the country, although girls could still attend primary school.
When asked about the exclusion of girls, Mutaki said schools were closed because of Govt-19 — the threat had diminished.
“The Govt is controlled and the incidence is very low, and by minimizing that risk, the opening of schools has already started and it is increasing every day,” he said.
Mutaki stressed that there was no discrimination against Shia sects and that he suppressed ISIS-K.
“Any products they made were 98 percent neutral,” he said.
The ISIS-K Shia mosque was bombed, killing more than 60 people on Friday, the worst attack since the Taliban regained power.
Underscoring the trembling security situation, the United States and Britain on Monday warned their citizens to avoid hotels in Afghanistan and to isolate a hotel in Kabul.
The U.S. State Department said “US citizens must leave immediately at or near the Serena Hotel,” citing “security threats” in the area.
Serena, a luxury facility popular among business travelers and foreign guests, has twice been the target of Taliban attacks.
In 2014, just weeks before the presidential election, four teenage gunmen hiding in socks broke into a multi-layered security station and killed nine people, including an AFP journalist and his family members.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published by Syndicate Feed.)