Taliban Consider Attending Doha Meeting, Reject New UN Envoy – Voice of America – VOA News

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Taliban officials remain opposed to the possible appointment of a U.N. envoy but say they are considering “meaningful participation” in an upcoming international meeting on Afghanistan.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a meeting of various countries’ special representatives for Afghanistan in Qatar on February 18 to discuss engagement strategies with de facto Taliban authorities.

A key agenda item for the two-day session is the potential appointment of a U.N. envoy who would coordinate increased international engagement with Taliban leaders in Kabul. The appointment, recommended in an independent U.N. assessment, is backed by the United States and its European allies.

China and Russia abstained in a December 2023 U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution that authorized the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan.

“In the presence of UNAMA [the U.N. Assistance Mission for Afghanistan], there is no need for the appointment of a new envoy,” Taliban’s deputy chief minister, Abdul Kabir, told Tomas Niklasson, the special envoy of the European Union for Afghanistan, on Wednesday.

UNAMA, a political mission headed by a special representative of the secretary-general, was established in 2002 and its mandate is annually renewed by the Security Council.

While the U.N. has not said whether it has invited the Taliban to the Qatar meeting, a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry said Kabul is mulling meaningful participation.

“Overall, the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] has a positive view about this meeting,” the statement quoted Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Afghan foreign minister, as saying on February 3.

The Taliban’s request to represent Afghanistan at the U.N. has been denied for the past two years and no country has formally declared its recognition of the Taliban government.

Intransigence

Since reclaiming power in 2021, Taliban leaders have largely ignored international and domestic calls to form an inclusive Afghan government and ensure women’s rights to work and education.

Human rights organizations caution that increased engagement with the Taliban risks legitimizing a leadership accused of maintaining discriminatory practices and committing a range of human rights violations, including what some have labeled “gender apartheid.”

“The Taliban are not in a position to set conditions for the international community. The Taliban need the international community more than vice versa. They should think and act rationally,” Hugo Llorens, a former U.S. charge de affairs in Afghanistan, told VOA.

Should the Taliban refuse to cooperate with a new U.N. envoy, it could further limit the international community’s capacity to respond to the political and humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Llorens said.

“The Taliban must show they are worthy of recognition.”

However, Taliban officials accuse Western governments of disregarding Afghan realities and imposing their own agendas.

“Anyone who tries to hurt Afghanistan’s security and economy, and impose political and external pressures, will get no results,” Yaqub Mujahid, Afghanistan’s defense minister, said on Wednesday at a gathering in Kabul.

The United States and the U.N. have imposed distinct sets of sanctions on Taliban leaders and entities, citing concerns related to terrorism. The Taliban have rejected those accusations and say the sanctions disproportionately burden the Afghan economy, hindering humanitarian aid and economic development.

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