US officials to meet Taliban representatives in Qatar this week

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US officials will meet Taliban representatives and “technocratic professionals” from key Afghan ministries during a visit to Doha this week, the State Department said on Wednesday, adding they will discuss security, narcotics and women’s rights.

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Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, and Doha, Qatar, from July 26 to July 31 and meet the Taliban delegation, the State Department said in a statement.

The officials will discuss critical interests in Afghanistan such as “humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stabilization, fair and dignified treatment of all Afghans, including women and girls, security issues, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking,” the statement added.

West and Amiri will also meet with civil society members working on issues of women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.

The meetings do not “mean any kind of indication of recognition or any kind of indication of normalization or legitimacy of the Taliban,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel when asked about the visit, reiterating US concerns about human rights abuses and the marginalization of women and girls in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

“This does not indicate any change in the 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,” Patel said.

With Reuters

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