UNSC committee allows Taliban’s foreign minister to travel to Pakistan

A UN Security Council committee on Monday agreed to allow Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban administration’s foreign minister, to travel to Pakistan next week to meet with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China, Reuters reported, quoting diplomats.

Muttaqi has long been subjected to a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo under Security Council sanctions.

According to a letter to the 15-member Security Council Taliban sanctions committee, Pakistan’s UN mission requested an exemption for Muttaqi was to travel between May 6-9 “for a meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China,” Reuters reported.

It did not say what the ministers would discuss. It said Pakistan would cover all costs associated with Muttaqi’s trip.

Chinese and Pakistani officials have both said in the past that they would welcome Taliban-led Afghanistan into the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Reuters report.

The Security Council committee allowed Muttaqi to travel to Uzbekistan last month for a meeting of the foreign ministers of neighboring countries of Afghanistan to discuss urgent peace, security, and stability matters.

This comes as UN Secretary-General António Guterres was in Doha, Qatar, on Monday to host a two-day meeting on Afghanistan, bringing together special envoys from various countries.

The aim is to reinvigorate international engagement around key issues, such as human rights, in particular women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking.

“The meeting is intended to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban on these issues,” the UN said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The exact number of envoys expected to attend the closed-door two-day meeting in Doha, Qatar, is not known but some reports indicate at least 25 countries will be represented, however, the Taliban has not been invited.

UNAMA chief Roza Otunbayeva; US special envoy Tomas West; Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov; China’s special envoy Yu Xia Yong; EU special envoy Tomas Niklasson; Uzbek special envoy Abdulaziz Kamilov; and Iranian special envoy Hassan Kazemi Qomi, are among the envoys expected to attend the Doha meeting.