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At Doha meet, US censures Taliban on rights issues in Afghanistan

Doha: A high-level US delegation met with senior Taliban representatives in Qatar to discuss concerns about expanding restrictions on the rights of Afghans and issues concerning the continuing presence of terrorist organizations in the country.

In a meeting that was held in Doha, US officials led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West covered matters like earthquake relief, economic stabilization, and counternarcotics.

"The Taliban reiterated their pledge to not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used by anyone to threaten any country. US officials expressed concern regarding the continuing presence of al-Qaida, ISIS-K, and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan," the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

"The United States expressed condolences for the loss of life and suffering in Afghanistan caused by recent earthquakes and outlined robust U.S. support, including USD 55 million in new assistance from USAID for the delivery of life-saving shelter, sanitation, and hygiene materials for affected populations, and to support the ongoing crisis across the country," he added.

Price said the two teams discussed the international community's humanitarian support for Afghanistan, including over USD 774 million provided by the United States since August 2021.

In the meeting with the Taliban representative, the US registered its concerns regarding increased interference by the Taliban in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Both sides agreed on the critical importance of maintaining uninterrupted access to basic healthcare throughout the country while addressing concerns regarding transparency in the delivery of services.

Regarding economic stabilization, the United States welcomed a recent payment of arrears owed to international financial institutions and discussed US support for steps to enhance the availability of afghani currency in the economy.

The two sides discussed in detail US actions to preserve USD 3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as steps to build international confidence in the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank.

Price said the Taliban's ongoing and expanding restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and girls was a central focus of US officials' engagement with the Taliban.

"The United States supports the Afghan people's demands that girls be allowed to return to school and that women be allowed to work, contribute to the country's economic growth, and move and express themselves freely, lines of effort that Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri is leading in coordination with her inter-agency colleagues," the State Department spokesperson said.

Price stated that US Special Representative West made clear the critical linkage between progress on the protection of Afghans' rights and steps toward normalizing America's ties with the Taliban.

The two sides noted an interest in additional exchanges regarding counternarcotics, and disaster response preparedness. (ANI)

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