US says talks with Taliban productive on aid, group warns against ‘pressure tactics’

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The US and the Taliban had “productive discussions” on the topic of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan during meetings in Qatar, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.

US, EU and Taliban officials held talks during two days of meetings in Qatar’s capital Doha. Price described the talks as “candid, professional, businesslike and largely positive” and added that they focused on security, terrorism concerns, safe passage for US citizens, foreign nationals and Afghan US allies, and human rights.

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“The delegation made ultimately clear, as we consistently have, that the Taliban will ultimately be judged, not only on its words, but solely on its actions,” Price said.

Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August, the US froze assistance to the country but says it is still providing aid through non-governmental groups.

Afghanistan’s economy is under immense pressure, with prices of food and fuel rising sharply amid a shortage of cash, triggered by a halt in foreign aid and a drought.

The Taliban which is seeking international recognition of its government is facing widespread global skepticism of the group’s ability to ensure the country doesn’t become a haven for terrorists and to protect the rights of women and girls in the country.

A spokesman for the Taliban’s ministry of foreign affairs said the group told US and EU officials that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because of the negative consequences it would directly have on the world in terms of security and economic migration.”

“Pressure tactics have not yielded results in Afghanistan, instead let us adopt constructive interaction and cooperation,” the Taliban spokesman said.

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