Taliban meet UK and Iran amid economic hardship | Islander
Afghan Taliban leaders have met with British officials for the first time since taking power, a move the group hopes to pave the way for the country to fill its cash-strapped coffers as it is on the brink of collapse economic.
The Taliban’s meeting with British diplomats in the capital Kabul came a day after they met an Iranian delegation – another first since taking office – to discuss trade relations, a key driver of the Afghan economy.
The Taliban met Sir Simon Gass, senior representative of the British Prime Minister for the Afghan transition, and Martin Longden, charge d’affaires of the British mission in Afghanistan in Doha.
The meeting marked Britain’s first diplomatic visit to the country since the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15 and took control of Afghanistan after the Allied forces left.
After the meeting, Longden tweeted that “substantial discussions” had taken place with Taliban leaders covering a wide range of topics including the humanitarian crisis, terrorism, the importance of safe passage for British and Afghan nationals, and the rights of women and girls.
He did not officially recognize their government, a wish of the Taliban, and called the meeting a “test.”
“This is the start and unsurprisingly there are points of difference between us. But such tough challenges await Afghanistan (and beyond),” he tweeted.
“It is fair to test whether we can pragmatically engage and find common ground – in the interests of both the UK and the people of Afghanistan.”
In a statement, the Taliban said they are committed to good relations with all countries.
“In return, we want the international community to return the cash capital of the Afghan nation to our nation,” he said, referring to billions of dollars in Afghan assets frozen in US accounts.
The Taliban also met with a delegation from neighboring Iran on Monday to regulate trade between the countries, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said.
They agreed to increase trading hours at the Islam Qala border post from eight hours a day to 24 hours and better regulate tariff collection and improve road works.
Customs are an essential source of domestic revenue for Afghanistan.
Aid-dependent Afghanistan is grappling with a liquidity crisis as assets remain frozen in the United States and disbursements from international organizations that once accounted for 75% of government spending have been lost. suspended.
The UN continues to sound the alarm bells over the country’s dire economic situation, saying a humanitarian crisis is imminent.
The World Children’s Agency has warned that half of Afghan children under five are expected to suffer from severe malnutrition as hunger sets in amid severe food shortages.
“There are millions of people who are going to starve and winter is coming, COVID is raging and the whole social system has collapsed,” said Omar Adbi, deputy executive director of UNICEF programs, during a visit to a children’s hospital in Kabul.
Associated Australian Press