KABUL: The European Union Special Envoy for Afghanistan on Thursday said he was “slightly more optimistic” that progress could be made in discussions at a UN-convened meeting on the country this month.
Tomas Niklasson gave a press conference at the end of a four-day trip to the Afghan capital Kabul, during which he met with senior Taliban officials ahead of a gathering of special envoys for Afghanistan hosted by the United Nations in Qatar from February 18.
A similar meeting was held in Doha in May 2023, with no Afghans invited.
Both Afghan civil society members and the Taliban authorities have been invited to this year’s meeting, to be held over two days, but there are still questions on the nature of their participation and the agenda, said Niklasson.
“I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture,” Niklasson told AFP, adding, however, that he said he felt “more optimistic about the attitude and the interest of the de facto authorities” for progress on obstacles to engagement in the meeting.
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“There was a very positive overall assessment and I didn’t hear… any fundamental disagreement with the analysis of the recommendations” of a recent UN independent assessment on Afghanistan, which will be key to the discussions.
He said Taliban officials, however, reiterated their resistance to the recommendation that a UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan be appointed. It is unclear if the appointment of such an envoy would be on the Doha agenda.
About 25 envoys and other delegations will take part in the meeting, which is aimed at discussing increasing engagement and coordination within the international community.
The Taliban government has not been officially recognised by any country since seizing power, after the chaotic withdrawal of US troops in August 2021.
States have taken varied approaches to relations with the new authorities, with issues such as restrictions on women’s rights and security concerns key obstacles.
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