Qatar warns against diplomatic isolation of Taliban

Putting too many conditions can hinder engagement with the movement now in control of Afghanistan, says Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani.

Isolating the Taliban could lead to further instability in Afghanistan, warned Qatar’s foreign minister on Tuesday, as he urged countries to engage with the group to address security and socioeconomic concerns.

Doha has emerged as a key interlocutor to the Taliban, having hosted the group’s political office since 2013.

“If we are starting to put conditions and stopping this engagement, we are going to leave a vacuum, and the question is, who is going to fill this vacuum?,” Sheikh Mohammed said in Doha, alongside his German counterpart, Heiko Maas.

No country has recognised the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan after their capture of Kabul on August 14.

Many western states have urged the group to form an inclusive government that includes various ethnicities and to respect human rights.

“We believe that without engagement we cannot reach…real progress on the security front or on the socioeconomic front,” Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that recognising the Taliban as the government was not a priority.

Germany’s Maas told reporters Berlin was willing to help Afghanistan but that international assistance comes with certain prerequisites.

“I personally believe there is absolutely no way around having talks with the Taliban… because we absolutely cannot afford to have instability in Afghanistan,” he said.

“That would aid terrorism and have a huge negative impact on neighbouring countries.

“We are not looking at questions of formal recognition, but we want to solve the existing problems – regarding the people in Afghanistan, the German citizens, but also the local staff who want to leave the country.”

The Taliban, which have held talks with members of the previous Afghan government and others in civil society, have said they would soon announce a full cabinet.

Qatar’s Sheikh Mohammed said the group had showed openness towards the idea of an inclusive government.

The Taliban have sought to alleviate concerns by committing to respecting individual rights and affirming that women will be able to study and work under their rule.

Sheikh Mohammed said isolating the Taliban during their last rule 20 years ago led to the current situation.

Since the Taliban took Kabul, there has been “tremendous engagement” on evacuations and counterterrorism, which delivered “positive results,” he said.

Sheikh Mohammed also added that talks on Qatar providing assistance to the running of Kabul’s airport were ongoing and no decision had been made.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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