The acting defense minister of the Taliban, Mullah Yaqub Mujahid, has met the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, for talks in Abu Dhabi on strengthening relations, Taliban defense ministry and UAE state media reported on Monday.
Mujahid is the son of the late supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar. The meeting with the UAE president is a rare encounter between a senior member of the group and a foreign head of state.
Taliban’s defense ministry in a statement on Monday said the two sides discussed “strengthening relations, bilateral cooperation between the UAE and Afghanistan and other important issues.”
The UAE state news agency WAM reported that the meeting took place on Sunday.
After taking over power in August 2021, the Taliban administration has not been formally recognized by any government.
The group has for years run a political office in Qatar where its top members have often met foreign officials.
Anas Haqqani, the Taliban’s interior minister, is accompanying Mujahid in his trip to the UAE.
The two met with a group of Afghan diaspora in the UAE on Sunday. Addressing an event, Mullah Yaqoob blamed “foreigners” for the current situation in Afghanistan and stressed that no Afghan is superior to another.
This comes as back in September, the Taliban signed a final contract for running Afghanistan’s airports with the UAE company GAAC Holding, which had beat out rival bids from Qatar and Turkey.
It also comes as former president Hamid Karzai traveled to the UAE for a visit that happens almost 15 months after the Taliban ban on his trip abroad. From there, he will travel to Germany, his aide, Shahzada Massoud, told Amu on Friday.