Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

This will be the second round of talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar since the group took over Afghanistan in August.

The United States will resume talks with the Taliban in Qatar next week, and discuss the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and steps to ensure the country does not become a “launching platform” for “terrorism,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The U.S. delegation will be led by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West for the planned two weeks of talks, Price said Tuesday.

“They will discuss … our important national interest when it comes to Afghanistan. It includes counter-terrorism, which includes safe passage for American citizens and for Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, and it includes humanitarian aid and the economic situation. from the country, ”Price told reporters.

West, who replaced Zalmay Khalilzad in the role in October, recently met with Taliban representatives in Pakistan in early November.

Before taking up the role, he also met with Taliban officials in Qatar as part of a U.S. delegation. The session was held from October 9 to 10 in the Qatari capital Doha, while US diplomats tried to develop informal relations with the new Taliban government.

U.S. officials had previously negotiated with a Taliban delegation in Qatar for months, reaching an agreement in February 2020 that preceded the US withdrawal and eventual Taliban takeover.

The Taliban then took control of the land in mid-August this year, days before US and international troops withdrew from Afghanistan 20 years after a military invasion overthrew the Taliban regime in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The US has not officially recognized the Taliban government, but announced in early November that Qatar would serve as Washington’s diplomatic representative in the country.

The US has repeatedly imposed conditions on the Taliban to receive financial and diplomatic support from Washington: fighting “terrorism”, setting up an inclusive government, respecting the rights of minorities, women and girls, and providing equal access to education and employment.

Ambassador West said last week that the US plans to continue the dialogue with the Taliban, but for now it will only provide humanitarian aid.

The Taliban, meanwhile, has increasingly called on the US to release $ 9.5 billion in frozen assets.

Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy has effectively collapsed – with civil servants not paid for months and the treasury unable to pay for imports.

In a letter to the US Congress, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi warned last week that the country’s financial uncertainty would continue to exacerbates an ongoing humanitarian crisis which may give rise to further mass migration.

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