US and Taliban hold first talks since Washington pulled its troops from Afghanistan in August
The Taliban warned the United States not to “destabilise” the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal, its foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Saturday.
Muttaqi’s comments come as the Taliban attempt to re-establish their rule in Afghanistan, 20 years after the hardline Islamists were driven out by the US-led invasion.
“We clearly told them that trying to destabilise the government in Afghanistan is good for no one,” Muttaqi told the Afghan state news agency Bakhtar after talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
“Good relations with Afghanistan are good for everyone. Nothing should be done to weaken the existing government in Afghanistan which can lead to problems for the people,” he said, in a recorded statement translated by AFP.
Muttaqi’s remarks came on the first of two days of talks with a US team led by the State Department’s Deputy Special Representative Tom West and top USAID humanitarian official Sarah Charles.
He said the US would also help vaccinate Afghans against Covid-19.
No immediate comment on the talks was available from the US side.
“The delegation from US decided that they will cooperate with us in vaccination and will provide human cooperation,” Muttaqi said.
He added: “It is being promised that states will have good relations with one another and have patience while Afghanistan is passing through a very tough time, so Afghanistan will come out of this condition with more strength.”
The hardline Taliban regained power in August as the United States ended its two-decade occupation with a withdrawal that included a chaotic airlift of foreignresidents and Afghans.
Their efforts to consolidate their rule have been undermined by a series of attacks by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), who claimed a bombing of a Shiite mosque that left more than 60 people dead on Friday.
Afghanistan’s economy is also teetering on the brink of collapse, with international aid cut off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.
Muttaqi said the Taliban wanted to hold meetings with other countries as well as the US to discuss Afghanistan’s difficulties.
“We are trying to have such meetings and gatherings with the US and other countries of the world and to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan, listen to one another’s opinions,” Muttaqi said.
The issues that people of Afghanistan are facing in terms of economy or any other issues should be resolved. The existing government of Afghanistan is committed to having good relations with other states and cooperate with others, to facilitate its people and provide them services.
“This is what we want and we are trying to discuss these areas with other countries.”
Before the talks, a US State Department official said its priorities were securing safe passage for US and other citizens who want to leave Afghanistan, and making sure the Taliban does not allow “terrorists” to operate on Afghan soil.
“This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” the official said.