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Top Taliban diplomat in Qatar in bid to unlock Afghan aid

Top Taliban diplomat in Qatar in bid to unlock Afghan aid

Taliban representative Anas Haqqani sits ahead of a meeting, in Oslo, Norway on Jan 24, 2022. Photo:VCG

A Taliban delegation arrived in Doha Sunday in a new bid to convince governments to provide humanitarian aid, six months after the hard-line Islamists toppled Afghanistan’s Western-backed government, officials said.

The delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, will meet with the EU delegation in Doha, diplomatic missions and officials from Gulf countries, the Taliban’s foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Their arrival in Doha was confirmed by international sources including a spokesman for the British government, and the trip comes as Afghanistan’s aid-starved economy sinks deeper into an unprecedented crisis.

The latest bid to unlock aid follows meetings in Oslo late in January between representatives of the Taliban and governments that heavily bankrolled Afghanistan’s previous government, which imploded in the face of a Taliban military offensive in mid-August.

The Taliban government has yet to gain formal recognition from any country and the UN says that half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people face food shortages.

But while Muttaqi told AFP in an interview early in February that the Taliban are inching closer to international recognition, his delegation is again expected to face demands to improve human rights in the Doha talks, set to begin on Monday.