US representatives to meet Taliban officials in Doha

Group now ruling Afghanistan is still not internationally recognised

Taliban fighters pose for photograph in Kabul. AP
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A US delegation is set to meet members of the Taliban in Doha in the coming days, the State Department has announced.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights Rina Amiri are expected to meet “technical professionals from key Afghan ministries” while they are in Qatar to discuss “critical interests” in the country.

According to a Wednesday statement from the State Department, the two sides will discuss a host of issues including “humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stabilisation, fair and dignified treatment of all Afghans, including women and girls, security issues, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking”.

The Taliban, which stormed back to power following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, upended 20 years of US-aided progress across a wide spectrum of social issues, chief among them the rights of women and girls.

Since their return to power, the Taliban have barred women from attending university and girls have been barred from secondary education, a massive blow to American efforts throughout the 20-year conflict.

The international community has yet to formally recognise the Taliban, despite the fact the group has controlled the country for nearly two years.

The State Department said the planned meeting “does not indicate any change in policy of the United States”.

“We have been very clear that we will engage with the Taliban appropriately when it is in our interest to do so,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“This is not intended to mean any kind of indication of recognition or any kind of indication of normalisation or legitimacy of the Taliban.”

Updated: July 27, 2023, 8:25 PM