Qatar’s PM meets Taliban officials in first high-level visit to Afghanistan

Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited Kandahar province in the south of Afghanistan and met with Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the acting Prime Minister in the Taliban’s new government.

Taliban authorities said the Qatari PM stressed the need for strengthening ties and boosting trust between the two countries.

He also met on Sunday with former President Hamid Karzai as well as Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the National Reconciliation Council as he encouraged Afghan parties and groups to engage in national reconciliation.

His trip is the highest-level visit by an official since the United States left Afghanistan.

The Taliban released pictures of Al Thani meeting Akhund, while photographs of him with former Karzai were circulating on social media.

Qatar is considered one of the countries with the most influence over the Taliban. Qatar played a vital role in the US-led airlift of its own citizens, other Western nationals and Afghanistan nationals who helped Western countries. It also hosted negotiations between the US and the Taliban that continued for at least 18 months.