The Taliban warned the United States not to “destabilise” the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal, its foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Saturday.
Muttaqi’s comments come as the Taliban attempt to re-establish their rule in Afghanistan, 20 years after the group was driven out by the US-led invasion.
“We clearly told them that trying to destabilise the government in Afghanistan is good for no one,” Muttaqi told the Afghan state news agency Bakhtar after talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
“Good relations with Afghanistan are good for everyone. Nothing should be done to weaken the existing government in Afghanistan which can lead to problems for the people,” he said, in a recorded statement translated by AFP.
A high level delegation of the Islamic Emirate led by Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Mottaki left for Qatar today.
The delegation will hold talks with Qatari officials and representatives of a number of other countries on the current political situation and relations in the pic.twitter.com/LKqctKSMSL
— Zabihullah Mujahid (@Zabihullah_M3) October 8, 2021
Muttaqi’s remarks came on the first of two days of talks with a US team led by the State Department’s Deputy Special Representative Tom West and top USAID humanitarian official Sarah Charles.
He said the US would also help vaccinate Afghans against Covid-19.
No immediate comment on the talks was available from the US side.
“The delegation from US decided that they will cooperate with us in vaccination and will provide human cooperation,” Muttaqi said.
He added: “It is being promised that states will have good relations with one another and have patience while Afghanistan is passing through a very tough time, so Afghanistan will come out of this condition with more strength.”
Meanwhile, Muttaqi while speaking to The Express Tribune said they held discussion with US delegation comprising military and diplomatic officials on various issues.
The Afghan acting FM said they urged the US side to unfreeze the central bank reserves of Afghanistan and respect the country’s air sovereignty.
“The Washington has accepted the fact that Taliban are the sole power and authority in the country that they are dealing with and we [Taliban] have the right and power to rule the country,” he told The Express Tribune.
Muttaqi said Taliban regime wanted to establish friendly relations with all countries including US but that should be based on mutual respect and on the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs.
The hardline Taliban regained power in August as the United States ended its two-decade occupation with a withdrawal that included a chaotic airlift of foreign residents and Afghans.
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Their efforts to consolidate their rule have been undermined by a series of attacks by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), who claimed a bombing of a Shia mosque that left more than 60 people dead on Friday.
Afghanistan’s economy is also teetering on the brink of collapse, with international aid cut-off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.
Muttaqi said the Taliban wanted to hold meetings with other countries as well as the US to discuss Afghanistan’s difficulties.
“We are trying to have such meetings and gatherings with the US and other countries of the world and to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan, listen to one another’s opinions,” Muttaqi said.
“The issues that people of Afghanistan are facing in terms of economy or any other issues should be resolved. The existing government of Afghanistan is committed to having good relations with other states and cooperate with others, to facilitate its people and provide them services.
“This is what we want and we are trying to discuss these areas with other countries.”
Before the talks, a US State Department official said its priorities were securing safe passage for US and other citizens who want to leave Afghanistan, and making sure the Taliban does not allow “terrorists” to operate on Afghan soil.
“This meeting is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” the official said.
(With additional reporting by Shahabullah Yousafzai from Peshawar)