Qatar FM visits Kabul for talks with Taliban

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani's aircraft on the tarmac at Kabul airport on September 12, 2021. ©AFP

Kabul (AFP) - Qatar's foreign minister held talks in Afghanistan on Sunday, becoming the most senior official to visit the country since the Taliban's takeover on August 15.

A Taliban official tweeted that Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met senior officials of the new Afghan regime, although details were not disclosed.

The group released pictures of Sheikh Mohammad meeting new Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, while photographs of him with former president Hamid Karzai circulated on social media.

In Doha, the foreign ministry confirmed he held meetings with the new Afghan government as well as with Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, former chief peace negotiator for the ousted government.

Sheikh Mohammad "urged the Afghan officials to engage all Afghan parties in the national reconciliation", it said.

The talks covered "latest developments regarding the operation of Kabul airport and ensuring freedom of passage and travel for all", it said in a statement.

The ministry said "the two sides stressed the importance of concerted efforts to combat terrorist organisations".

Qatar has long acted as a mediator on Afghanistan, hosting the Taliban's talks with the United States under former president Donald Trump, and then with the now deposed Afghan government of president Ashraf Ghani.

It is also supporting tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated in the final weeks of the US-led occupation as they are processed before heading to other nations.

No country has yet formally recognised the new Taliban government -- and only three did during the first rule of the hardline Islamists from 1996-2001.


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