Taliban attends UN meeting for the first time in Doha

July 03, 2024 | 13:47:44

Afghanistan's economy and impact of Western sanctions featured prominently during UN meet.

NEW DELHI: The Taliban is for the first time participating in a United Nations (UN)-led meeting in Qatar’s Doha that started Sunday, sparking an outcry from women’s rights activists across the world.

Interestingly, an Indian delegation led by senior diplomat J.P. Singh, who heads the Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA’s) Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran (PAI) Division, met Taliban representatives ahead of the meeting.

There was an “exchange of views on the development of relations between the two countries”, during which India supported the Taliban’s position in the Doha meeting and in turn, thanks were given for India’s assistance to Afghanistan, according to a statement issued by the Taliban government spokesperson. 

The war-torn country’s economy and impact of Western sanctions featured prominently during the UN-led meeting on Afghanistan, where discussions also focused on the threat of drugs and other issues. Taliban government spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid noted that the regime’s ban on poppy cultivation failed to garner any movement in terms of easing of sanctions by the international community.

Incidentally, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Doha a day before the UN meeting, where he held talks with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. This was Jaishankar’s third visit overseas and second to West Asia, since assuming office for a second time earlier in June. 

Ahead of the UN meeting, the Taliban held talks with diplomatic delegations from Uzbekistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to a statement from the Taliban, Riyadh wants to reopen its embassy in Kabul “as soon as possible”. 

The Taliban continues to be economically crippled by the UN and Western countries, and all foreign reserves of Afghanistan’s central bank remain frozen. However, certain players in its neighbourhood like Kazakhstan have removed the Taliban from their list of prohibited groups. 

The Russian foreign ministry is reportedly considering the same. China, meanwhile, became the first country to officially recognise an ambassador appointed by the Taliban regime this February.