Political dialogue among the people of Afghanistan key to solving crisis: US envoy

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West said on Wednesday that envoys who attended the Doha meeting this week shared a common consensus that political dialogue among the people of Afghanistan is a central part of the solution to challenges in the country.

West said in a series of tweets that the Doha meeting on Afghanistan was not about the recognition of the Taliban, but was focused on “identifying shared interests and how we collectively advance them: on terrorism, repression of women and girls, devastating humanitarian crisis, and narcotics outflows, among others.”

“Countries assigned different priorities to these interests, but among points of consensus: political dialogue among Afghans is a central part of the solution to all challenges,” he said.

This came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hosted a meeting with over 20 special envoys for Afghanistan in Doha on Monday and Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uzbekistan.

The meeting was described by the UN as nations and organizations trying to reach unified stances on human rights, governance, counterterrorism, and anti-drug efforts.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Guterres stated that collectively all participants were worried about the stability of Afghanistan – which relates to the persistent presence of terrorist organizations.

He stated “to achieve our objectives, we cannot disengage” with the Taliban and said “it is difficult to overestimate the gravity of the situation” in the country.

He noted that 97% of the population lives in poverty and that donor funding is drying up.

Guterres emphasized that the current ban on local women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan is unacceptable “and puts lives in jeopardy”.