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Don't isolate the Taliban, warns Qatar FM

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al-Thani on 8 June 2017. [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al-Thani on 8 June 2017 [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]

With the US on Monday bringing an end to its 20-year war in Afghanistan in what is universally seen as a humiliating defeat, attention has turned to the country's future. Qatar, which played a crucial mediating role between the Taliban and US, has warned against hasty moves that may push the central Asian state to further instability.

"If we are starting to put conditions and stopping this engagement, we are going to leave a vacuum, and the question is, who is going to fill this vacuum?" Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said in Doha yesterday, warning against isolating the Taliban.

"We believe that without engagement we cannot reach … real progress on the security front or on the socioeconomic front," Al Thani continued, adding that recognising the Taliban as the government was not a priority.

Speaking about Qatar's ongoing role in the post-US occupied Afghanistan, Al Thani mentioned the need to create an inclusive government. "It is our role to always urge them [the Taliban] to have an expanded government that includes all parties and not to exclude any party," he said. "During our talks with the Taliban, there was no positive or negative response," Al Thani revealed, referring to recent talks between Qatar and Afghanistan's new rulers.

READ: Top Turkish officials discuss Afghanistan with Qatari counterparts

Al Thani explained that isolating the Taliban over the past two decades has led to the current situation adding that there was now a need to extend good-will and grant the party the benefit of the doubt.

Since the Taliban took Kabul, there has been "tremendous engagement" on evacuations and counterterrorism, which delivered "positive results", Al Thani said, adding that talks on Qatar aiding the Taliban in running of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport were ongoing and no decision had been made.

No country has recognised the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan after its capture of Kabul on 15 August. But there is a reluctant admission that the group represents the best hope of getting Afghanistan back on its feet, a point which German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged while speaking alongside his Qatari counterpart.

"I personally believe there is absolutely no way around having talks with the Taliban … because we absolutely cannot afford to have instability in Afghanistan," Maas said, warning that it "would aid terrorism and have a huge negative impact on neighbouring countries".

Speaking about recognition of a Taliban led government Mass said: "We are not looking at questions of formal recognition, but we want to solve the existing problems – regarding the people in Afghanistan, the German citizens, but also the local staff who want to leave the country."

READ: Hamas: US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan 'historical moment'

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