US agrees to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but refuses political recognition to Taliban

The US agreed to provide Afghanistan with much-needed humanitarian aid, but reiterated this was not an indication that the Taliban government would be formally recognised.

The decision to provide aid was announced after talks between the US and Taliban officials in Qatar’s national capital Doha on Sunday.

The talks were held for the first time since August, when the US completed its withdrawal and the Islamist group seized power in Afghanistan, declaring the country an Islamic emirate amid widespread concerns over the erosion of citizens’ freedoms.

“US representatives stated that they will give humanitarian assistance to Afghans and will provide facilities for other humanitarian organisations to deliver aid,” Taliban’s foreign ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

The Taliban government has been seeking international recognition and aid in order to avoid a potential economic collapse. Almost 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product depends on foreign aid that was stopped after the Taliban took over.

The Taliban, in its statement, warned against linking humanitarian aid to political issues.

The US State Department in its own statement, however, said the two sides “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance”, which it said would be given “directly to the Afghan people”.

“The US delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for 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,” the state department’s spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The US statement defined the talks as “candid and professional,” with the country reiterating its earlier stand of the Taliban being “judged on its actions, not only its words.”

It also clarified that the talks should not be determined as a formal recognition of the Taliban government.

The meeting also included discussions on the US’s concerns about terror groups using Afghan soil and the threat from Isis-K that carried out an attack on a mosque in the country on Friday, killing dozens.

The Taliban assured the US during the talks that it was committed to ensuring Afghan soil was not used by extremists to launch attacks against other countries, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press.

However, he also ruled out cooperation with Washington in dealing with Isis-K, saying the Taliban was capable of tackling the threat independently.