US officials meet with Taliban in Doha, discuss human rights, economy

US officials meet with Taliban in Doha, discuss human rights, economy

American delegation also presses Afghanistan’s rulers for 'immediate and unconditional release' of detained US citizens

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) - US officials met with representatives of the Taliban and "technocratic professionals" in Doha, Qatar for talks between Sunday and Monday.

They urged Afghanistan’s rulers "to reverse policies responsible for the deteriorating human rights situation” in the country, “particularly for women, girls and vulnerable communities.”

Leading the discussion with the Taliban about "critical interests" was Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights Rina Amiri, and Chief of the US Mission to Afghanistan based in Doha Karen Decker, according to the State Department.

"U.S. officials identified areas for confidence building in support of the Afghan people. The American delegation also expressed deep concern regarding the humanitarian crisis and the need to continue to support aid organizations and UN bodies delivering assistance consistent with humanitarian principles," said the statement.

The American delegation also expressed "grave concern regarding detentions, media crackdowns and limits on religious practice” and expressed "support for the Afghan people’s demands for their rights to be respected and for their voices to shape the future of the country."

The economy was also discussed as the US delegation met with representatives of the Afghan Central Bank and Afghan Ministry of Finance to discuss the state of the Afghan economy and the challenges that the banking sector faces.

"US officials took note of recent data indicating declining inflation, growth of merchandise exports and imports in Afghanistan in 2023 and voiced openness to a technical dialogue regarding economic stabilization issues soon," the statement said.

"US officials took note of the Taliban’s continuing commitment to not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used by anyone to threaten the United States and its allies, and the two sides discussed Taliban efforts to fulfill security commitments," it added.

Acknowledging that there has been a decrease in large-scale terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians, the statement said the US delegation pressed for the "immediate and unconditional release of detained US citizens, noting that these detentions were a significant obstacle to positive engagement."

The US side also expressed an openness to continue dialogue on counternarcotics, according to the State Department.

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as officials of the US-backed Kabul administration fled the country and foreign forces withdrew.

Since then, the US has not recognized the Taliban government and has also imposed sanctions.

The meeting "does not indicate any change in policy of the United States," State Department Deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said during a news conference on Monday.

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