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Qatari minister in Kabul in highest level foreign visit since Taliban took power


Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani attends talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not seen) in Moscow, Russia Sept. 11, 2021. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV /Pool via REUTERS)

CAIRO — Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held talks with the Taliban-appointed prime minister on Sunday, a Taliban spokesman said, in the highest level foreign visit to Kabul since the group seized the capital last month.

Qatar is considered one of the countries with the most influence over the Taliban and played a pivotal role in the massive US-led airlift of its own citizens, other Western nationals, and Afghans who helped Western countries.

The Qatari capital Doha was also the home of the Taliban’s political office which oversaw the negotiations with the United States that eventually led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

Sheikh Mohammed met Prime Minister Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund and a number of other senior ministers, a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.

“The meeting focused on bilateral relations, humanitarian assistance, economic development and interaction with the world,” according to a statement from Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen.

Sunday’s meeting in the presidential palace, first reported by Al Jazeera television, was attended by a number of other Afghan ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Defence Minister Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and intelligence chief Abdul Haq Wasiq.

Shaheen said the leadership of the Islamic Emirate, the term used to describe the new order in place in Afghanistan, thanked the Qatar government for supporting the Afghan people.

It said the Doha agreement, signed by the United States and the Taliban, was a “landmark achievement, all sides should adhere to its implementation.”

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