Taliban hold talks with Qatar foreign minister. Here’s what they discussed
Taliban government's acting prime minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund met with Qatari foreign minister on Sunday, in the highest-level foreign visit to Afghanistan since the hardline Islamist group captured the capital last month. Qatar's foreign ministry said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called upon the country's new rulers to "involve all Afghan parties in national reconciliation" when he met Mullah Muhammad Hasan Akhund.
Reports that the two sides discussed “bilateral relations, humanitarian assistance, economic development and interaction with the world” during the meeting held in the presidential palace. According to the Qatar foreign ministry, Sheikh Mohammed and Taliban prime minister Hassan Akhund also discussed "concerted efforts to combat terrorist organisations that threaten the stability of Afghanistan", ways to enhance peace in the country and the safe passage of people.
Qatar foreign ministry said Sheikh Mohammed "urged the Afghan officials to engage all Afghan parties in the national reconciliation", it said. The ministry also said in a statement that talks covered "latest developments regarding the operation of Kabul airport and ensuring freedom of passage and travel for all".
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Hassan Akhund thanked Qatar for its assistance to the people of Afghanistan, stressing that the Qatari people had helped Afghans in embracing peace and stability and stood with them during difficult situations. The talks also touched upon the importance of international aid to Afghanistan. The Qatari foreign minister hoped that Afghanistan and Qatar "would have good relations in the future," reports said.
The meeting was attended by a number of other Afghan ministers including deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, defence minister Yaqoob Mujahid, interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and intelligence chief Abdul Haq Wasiq. Sheikh Mohammed also met Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the previous Afghan government, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the foreign ministry said.
The visit came days after the Taliban announced a caretaker government in Afghanistan on September 7. Qatar is considered one of the countries with the most influence over the Taliban. The Qatari capital Doha also hosted the Taliban's political office, which oversaw the negotiations with the United States that eventually led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
(With agency inputs)