Taliban warn UN over exclusion from Afghanistan talks

Secretary General says Doha meeting is about developing common international approach, 'not about recognition of the de facto Taliban authorities'

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gives an address after a closed-door summit on Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar. AP
Powered by automated translation

The Taliban warned on Tuesday that UN-led closed-door talks on Afghanistan in Qatar could be “counterproductive”, after they were excluded from the event.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres began the second day of meetings with special envoys from 25 countries for a “frank and constructive” exchange of views on Afghanistan.

The Taliban were not invited.

“Any meeting without the participation of IEA [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] representatives — the main party to the issue — is unproductive and even sometimes counterproductive,” said Suhail Shaheen, head of the Taliban political office in Doha.

“How can a decision taken at such meetings be acceptable or implemented while we are not part of the process? It is discriminatory and unjustified.”

Mr Guterres told reporters that the meeting was about developing a common international approach, “not about recognition of the de facto Taliban authorities”.

He did not rule out any future meetings with the Taliban but said “today is not the right moment to do so”.

Concerns over the country's stability were growing and participants had agreed on the need for a strategy of engagement that allows for the stabilisation of Afghanistan, he said.

“To achieve our objectives, we cannot disengage,” Mr Guterres said.

Threatening or further isolating the Taliban is not a pragmatic approach for countries seeking to alleviate Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis or to ease restrictions on women and girls, said Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who attended the meeting.

UN chief says he is open to meeting Taliban as Afghanistan summit ends

UN chief says he is open to meeting Taliban as Afghanistan summit ends

Daniel Forti, senior analyst with the Crisis Group, told The National that the Doha meeting has “managed to offend not only the Taliban, which is angry that it is excluded, but also Afghan civilians inside and outside the country, who think their views are being ignored by the UN”.

UN officials and Security Council members have agreed that it is better for elements of the world body to stay in the country than for them to leave, said Mr Forti.

“One important outcome from Doha would be if everyone communicates this to the Taliban in no uncertain terms,” he said.

Mr Guterres confirmed the UN would stay in Afghanistan to deliver humanitarian aid, but warned of a severe shortfall in financial pledges for the humanitarian appeal this year.

“Throughout the past decades, we stayed and we delivered. And we are determined to seek the necessary conditions to keep delivering,” he said.

The appeal is a little more than 6 per cent funded, falling short of the $4.6 billion requested for a country in which 97 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

“Two thirds of the population — 28 million — will need humanitarian assistance this year to survive. Six million Afghan children, women and men are one step away from famine-like conditions,” he said.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Tuesday that the people of Afghanistan “cannot afford to not have the full support of the international community”.

“We have to find a way where despite all of the many concerns about the de facto authorities, we make sure that the people of Afghanistan do not suffer as a result of what's happened over the past few years,” he said.

Women describe their experiences since the Taliban took over — in pictures

Updated: May 02, 2023, 11:17 PM