For the first time since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the US and Taliban held talks in Doha during which Washington pressed the regime to “reverse policies responsible for the deteriorating human rights situation” in Afghanistan, according to the Department of State.
In a statement, the Department said that talks with “senior Taliban representatives and technocratic professionals” had been held over Sunday and Monday in the Qatari capital, the BBC reported.
The US delegation “expressed support for the Afghan people’s demands for their rights to be respected and for their voices to shape the future of the country”, particularly for women, girls, and “vulnerable communities”, it added.
According to the Department, the delegation also pressed for the release of detained American citizens and “took note” of the Taliban’s “continuing commitment not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a platform for attacks on the US and its allies”, acknowledging a “decrease in large-scale terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians”.
On their part, the Taliban said they wanted the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s assets, as well as lifting of sanctions and travel bans.
Taking to Twitter on Monday, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said : “Also, humanitarian aid, freedom of travel, & Afghans’ access to consular services around the world were among importance issues of discussion.
“Removal of most of the restrictions on Afghan banks leading to easy transactions was considered a positive development. Both sides emphasized the continuation of such meetings, understanding, & interactions.”
According to Balkhi, the Taliban delegation was led by Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and included representatives from the Ministry, Da Afghanistan Bank and officials from the Afghan Embassy and Political Office in Qatar.
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, the US froze $10 billion of the war-torn country’s central bank assets held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Half of the funds now are in a Swiss-based Afghan Fund.
It took just days for Taliban fighters to regain Kabul following the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict.
No country has formally recognised the Taliban since its return to power.
Since their takeover, the Taliban has faced widespread international condemnation over restrictions the regime has imposed on women’s education.
Afghanistan is also grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis, with almost half of its population — 23 million people — receiving assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) last year.