US officials hold in-depth talks with Taliban in Doha
Voice grave concern over women rights, detentions, media crackdowns and limits on religious practice: Call for reversing policies responsible for worsening human rights: US-Afghan talks on economic issues soon
August 1, 2023 09:07 AM
US officials met with Taliban representatives in Doha, where they denounced the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan -- particularly for women and girls, according to a statement from the State Department on Monday.
The American delegation to the discussions in the Qatari capital on Sunday "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" in Afghanistan, it said.
Attendees -- including US Special Representative Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri, as well as Karen Decker, the chief of the US mission to Afghanistan -- also voiced "grave concern regarding detentions, media crackdowns, and limits on religious practice."
The statement did not identify the Taliban representatives who attended the talks, describing them only as "senior" and as "technocratic professionals." It did not elaborate on their response to the calls.
Since sweeping back to power in August 2021, Taliban authorities have grappled with a humanitarian crisis in a poverty-stricken country emerging from decades of war, while imposing their austere brand of Islam on society.
They have banned girls and women from attending high school and university, barred them from visiting parks, fun-fairs and gyms, and have ordered them to cover up in public.
Women have also been mostly blocked from working for the United Nations or NGOs, with thousands sacked from government jobs or being paid to stay at home.
Earlier this month Taliban authorities shuttered one of the last remaining areas of work and socialization open to women under their government: beauty parlors.
The American delegation in Doha "urged the Taliban to reverse policies responsible for the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan, particularly for women, girls, and vulnerable communities," the State Department statement said.
It also "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 United States also called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of American citizens detained in Afghanistan, the statement said.
At the same time, the delegation "took note" of the Taliban's "continuing commitment" not to allow Afghanistan to be used as a platform for attacks on the United States and its allies, acknowledging "a decrease in large-scale terrorist attacks against Afghan civilians."
And the United States said it recognized a "significant decrease in cultivation" of poppies this growing season.
Taliban fighters used the plant, from which opium is extracted, to help fund their insurgency for years -- by 2020, 85 percent of the world's opium was flowing out of Afghanistan, according to the UN -- but since their takeover, authorities have banned the crop.
The US delegation also met representatives of the Afghan central bank and the Ministry of Finance, with the State Department saying it "took note" of falling inflation and rising exports and imports in 2023.
It said it would be open to "a technical dialogue regarding economic stabilization issues soon," according to the statement.