US to Resume Talks with Taliban Next Week
By Staff, Agencies
The United States says it will resume talks with the Taliban next week in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
A delegation led by US special representative for Afghanistan Tom West will be in Doha for two weeks to discuss "our vital national interests," with the Taliban, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.
The two sides, Price said, will also discuss operations against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] and al-Qaeda, humanitarian assistance, Afghanistan's economy, and safe passage out of Afghanistan for US citizens and Afghans who worked for the US.
A first session between the two sides was held in October in Doha. West also met representatives of the Taliban on a visit to Pakistan last month.
The US envoy said on Friday that Washington would continue to have dialog with the Taliban, which returned to power in the summer in the middle of the US's chaotic troop withdrawal from the country. He said the US would only provide humanitarian aid to the country for now.
The United States seized nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank after the Taliban took power in August.
The Taliban have repeatedly called for the release of the assets, but Washington has rebuffed the call, saying the new government in Kabul must "earn" international legitimacy first.
The new Afghan rulers have warned Western diplomats that insisting on sanctions as a means to pressure their governance could undermine security and trigger a wave of economic refugees.
The United Nations' special representative for Afghanistan also warned this week that the country was "on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe" and that its collapsing economy was heightening the risk of terrorism.
Pakistan, which is hosting a US Congress delegation, also said the problem "must be resolved quickly to avert the collapse of the system" in Afghanistan. The US delegation had a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, during which Khan said his government and Washington needed to "deepen engagement to promote peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan."
Afghanistan's neighboring country, however, refuses to accept refugees since the Taliban's takeover of the country, a Foreign Policy [FP] report said on Tuesday. It said Islamabad, which has accepted nearly 3.5 million Afghans over the past three decades, has "pushed back against new arrivals from Afghanistan."
According to the report, the Pakistani authorities have tightened the country's border control and deported some people who attempted to cross over without legal documents in recent months.