US special envoys to meet Afghanistan ‘technocrats’ and Taliban delegation in Doha

The US State Department announced on Wednesday that Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri will embark on a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan, and Doha, Qatar, from July 26 to July 31.

During their stay in Astana, they will convene a C5+1 Special Session on Afghanistan, engaging with colleagues from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as stated in the official statement.

In addition, the envoys will hold discussions with members of civil society who are committed to advancing women’s economic empowerment in both Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, the statement said.

Upon reaching Doha, they are scheduled to meet with a delegation of Taliban representatives alongside technocratic professionals from key Afghanistan ministries, the statement said, adding that the primary focus of these discussions will be addressing crucial matters concerning Afghanistan.

Priority issues to be addressed include humanitarian support for Afghanistan people of Afghanistan, economic stabilization, ensuring fair and dignified treatment for all Afghans, with special emphasis on women and girls, as well as tackling security concerns and countering narcotics production and trafficking, according to the statement.

The visit comes as the US Department of State has stated that no official from their office has any plans to travel to Afghanistan, indirectly responding to a letter from US congressman Michael McCaul, who expressed strong opposition to any attempt by United States officials to travel to the South Asian country now under Taliban control.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “There are no department officials who have any plans to travel to Afghanistan.” He further mentioned that Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently spoke with his counterpart in Pakistan to reaffirm a productive US-Pakistan partnership.

In his statement on Monday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul emphasized the need to avoid US government officials meeting with the Taliban and legitimizing their de-facto governance of Afghanistan, which remains a contested situation.

McCaul highlighted the deteriorating behavior of the Taliban despite previous US engagement. He pointed out their actions, such as taking Americans hostage, disrupting humanitarian assistance efforts, appointing al-Qaeda officials to government positions, and imposing draconian rules on women and girls, including restricting education beyond the sixth grade.

Instead of normalizing the Taliban’s regime, McCaul urged the US to lead the international community in demanding reforms.