US, Taliban representatives begin talks in Doha

Suhail Shaheen, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, announced on Sunday that talks have commenced between a Taliban delegation and US representatives in Qatar.

The talks are expected to cover a wide range of issues as reported by both sides.

Taliban’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi stated that their discussions will center around the release of Afghanistan’s frozen funds, the lifting of sanctions, and the alleged violation of Afghanistan’s airspace by the US. In addition, the US State Department has clarified that American representatives are engaging in discussions with the Taliban and technocrat experts concerning humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, support for economic stability, and the appropriate and dignified treatment of all Afghanistan nationals, including women and girls.

Doha continues to serve as a negotiation center between the Taliban and the US. A new round of talks, hosted on Sunday, involved Taliban representatives, led by Amir Khan Muttaqi, and US special envoy Thomas West.

“In these meetings, our emphasis is on the release of the frozen assets of Afghanistan. We also discuss the fact that the airspace of Afghanistan is being violated by the US, which is against the Doha agreement and international principles. Additionally, the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan and the black lists must end,” stated Muttaqi.

The US’s agenda differs from that of the Taliban, with the US State Department highlighting discussions on humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stability, and the dignified treatment of all the country’s citizens, including women and girls. Notably, technocrat experts have also been included in the Doha talks.

“There are no common points between the two parties. It remains to be seen what results will be reached in two days. In any case, another issue that can be questioned is whether Mr. Muttaqi has the authority to make decisions in this meeting or whether the results will be given to the leader. The Taliban will leave and wait for the opinion of the Taliban leadership on the matter. This meeting will not have immediate results,” remarked Ishaq Atmar, a political analyst.

Part of Thomas West and Rina Amiri’s conversations with representatives of Central Asian countries in recent days has been focused on the rights of women in Afghanistan and support for them. Questions have however arisen as to whether the Doha meeting can have an effect on the Taliban’s strict policies regarding women.

The Doha meeting comes amid Afghanistan’s ongoing economic crisis, humanitarian disaster and elevated concerns about human rights violations. In July, the Taliban closed beauty salons, affecting the income of 60,000 women. Female students have also faced obstacles in continuing their education due to the Taliban’s strict restrictions, such as the ban on them writing the recent university entrance examination.