UN chief to convene Afghanistan meeting in Doha in May

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene envoys on Afghanistan from various countries next month to try to find a unified approach to dealing with the Taliban authorities, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The closed-door meeting in Doha on May 1-2 will aim to “reinvigorate the international engagement around common objectives for a durable way forward on ... Afghanistan,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

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Earlier this month the Taliban began enforcing a ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations. In December, the group that resumed control of Afghanistan in 2021 stopped most female humanitarian aid employees from working.

The Taliban says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Since toppling the Western-backed government after US-led forces withdrew following 20 years of war, the Taliban has also tightened controls over women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing most girls’ high schools.

Dujarric also sought to explain comments made by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed about the planned Doha meeting.

“Out of that, we hope that we will find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition ... of the Taliban, a principled recognition - in other words, there are conditions,” Mohammed told an event at Princeton University on Monday.

“That discussion has to happen ... There are some that believe this can never happen. There are others that say, well, it has to happen,” said Mohammed. “The Taliban clearly want recognition and that’s the leverage we have.”

Dujarric said on Wednesday that the issue of recognition was “clearly in the hands of the member states” and that Mohammed was reaffirming the need for an internationally coordinated approach.

“She was not in any way implying that anyone else but member states have the authority for recognition,” Dujarric said.

In December, the 193-member UN General Assembly approved postponing - for the second time - a decision on whether to recognize the Afghan Taliban administration by allowing them to send a United Nations ambassador to New York.

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