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Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani held a secret meeting with the top Taliban leader in Afghanistan on May 12, CNN reported citing two sources familiar with the meeting.
The meeting between Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada and Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani took place in Kandahar on May 12. The Biden administration was quickly briefed about the meeting, as per the CNN report. After the meeting, US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Qatari PM held a telephonic conversation. A readout by the US State Department on May 13 noted Blinken’s “appreciation for Qatar’s continued assistance on Afghanistan.”
A few days later Qatar’s Al Jazeera reported that Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani had visited Kabul as part of facilitating ties between the Taliban and the international community, as per the CNN report.
As per the news report, US officials have met occasionally with the Taliban in Doha since the American troops left Afghanistan in August 2021 amid the Taliban takeover. The US has closed its diplomatic compound in Kabul and relocated its diplomatic mission to Doha.
Earlier in May, the Taliban was not invited to a United Nations-organised conference on Afghanistan in Doha. Envoys from the United States, China and Russia, as well as major European aid donors and key neighbours such as Pakistan, are among the representatives from about 25 countries and groups called to the two days of closed-door talks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the Qatari capital on Monday, Al Jazeera reported.
Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the Taliban will not be invited to the meeting to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in the country and its international isolation. Taliban recognition was not on the agenda, Al Jazeera reported citing a UN source.
The Taliban has been criticised for its growing curbs on women, including a ban on education and employment.