EU special envoy focuses on preparing for productive Doha meeting during Afghanistan visit

File photo.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The European Union’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, addressed a briefing in Kabul about his four-day visit to the country. He said the focus was on better preparations for organizing a constructive meeting in Doha.

Niklasson’s visit included discussions with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) chief, Taliban officials, Afghan political figures like Hamid Karzai, NGO representatives, and others.

“The main focus of my visit this time was to compare notes with the de facto authorities, other Afghans and representatives of the diplomatic community to help us set realistic expectations and prepare better for a constructive Doha meeting,” Niklasson said.

He also mentioned his upcoming attendance at a meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, next week.

“My visit to Kabul follows extensive outreach to countries invited to the Doha meeting on Feb. 18-19, convened by the UN and hosted by Qatar,” Niklasson added. He referred to his participation in a G7+ meeting in London and bilateral conversations with countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

In Kabul, discussions revolved around an independent assessment and its recommendations, respecting the rights of the Afghan people, and the aspirations of the de facto authorities to maintain good international relations.

“I shared my assessment that the Doha meeting is a significant opportunity for meaningful discussions about Afghanistan’s future,” he said, noting the inclusion of Afghan women and men at the Doha meeting for diverse perspectives.

Niklasson also reflected on last year’s UN-organized meeting in Doha.

“At the first meeting of Special Envoys in Doha on May 1-2, 2023, no Afghans were invited. The meeting agreed on three main points: No support for armed resistance in Afghanistan, the need for engagement with Afghan de facto authorities, and the conditions not being in place for international recognition of these authorities as the legitimate government,” he said.

Following Special Coordinator Feridun Sinirlioglu’s independent assessment, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2721 (2023) on Dec. 29, 2023, which led to the upcoming Doha meeting.

“Unlike last year, representatives of the de facto authorities and other Afghans have been, or will be, invited to this meeting,” Niklasson confirmed.

The visit precedes the special envoys’ meeting in Doha scheduled for Feb. 18-19.