Taliban team will attend Afghanistan-related UN-led summit in Qatar

The Taliban on Tuesday confirmed their delegation will attend an upcoming UN-led meeting in Qatar on Afghanistan after the organisers said last week that women would be excluded from the gathering.

The meeting on June 30 and July 1 is the third UN-sponsored gathering on the Afghan crisis in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The Taliban were not invited to the first and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said they set unacceptable conditions for attending the second meeting, in February, including demands that Afghan civil society members be excluded from the talks and that they be treated as the country’s legitimate rulers.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry in Kabul said the chief Taliban government spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, will lead the Taliban delegation at the two-day meeting, starting Sunday.

The ministry said the strategy for the Doha gathering was discussed at a meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi that touched on several topics, including international restrictions imposed on Afghanistan’s financial and banking system, the challenges in growing the private sector and government actions against drug trafficking.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as American and Nato forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country following two decades of war.

No country has so far officially recognised the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government. The United Nations has said that recognition is almost impossible while bans on female education and employment remain in place.

Last week, the United Nations’ top official in Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, defended the failure to include Afghan women in the upcoming meeting in Doha, insisting that demands for women’s rights are certain to be raised.

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