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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Taliban reaffirm pledge not to allow anyone to use Afghan soil against any country: US

WASHINGTON:  The Taliban, at a meeting with a high-level US delegation in Qatar, reiterated their pledge to not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used by anyone to threaten any country, a State Department spokesperson said in a statement issued in Washington Friday.

On their part, Spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement that “US officials expressed concern regarding the continuing presence of Al-Qaeda, ISIS-K, and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.”

He said that the U.S. delegation, led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, met with senior Taliban representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Doha on June 29 and 30, to discuss a range of subjects.

The meeting follows last week’s deadly earthquake, which brought into focus how relief and emergency aid efforts have stumbled under the weight of the country’s spiraling economic woes.

The quake in southeastern Afghanistan killed around 770 people, according to U.N. figures, though the Taliban put the death toll at closer to 1,150, with thousands injured. The U.N. says 155 children are among those killed in what was the deadliest earthquake to hit the impoverished country in two decades.

Price said the two teams discussed the international community’s humanitarian support for Afghanistan, including over USD 774 million provided by the United States since August 2021.

In the meeting with the Taliban representatives, the US registered its concerns regarding increased interference by the Taliban in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the statement said.

Both sides agreed on the critical importance of maintaining uninterrupted access to basic healthcare throughout the country while addressing concerns regarding transparency in the delivery of services.

Regarding economic stabilization, the United States welcomed a recent payment of arrears owed to international financial institutions and discussed US support for steps to enhance the availability of Afghani currency in the economy.

The two sides discussed in detail US actions to preserve USD 3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as steps to build international confidence in the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank.

Price said the Taliban’s ongoing and expanding restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and girls was a central focus of US officials’ engagement with the Taliban.

“The United States supports the Afghan people’s demands that girls be allowed to return to school and that women be allowed to work, contribute to the country’s economic growth, and move and express themselves freely, lines of effort that Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri is leading in coordination with her inter-agency colleagues,” the State Department spokesperson said.

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