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UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to host a meeting of special envoys from several countries on Afghanistan in Qatar on Monday to discuss the situation in the strife-torn nation.
“The Secretary-General will be in Doha, Qatar, on 1 and 2 May to host a meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan to reach points of commonality on key issues, such as human rights, in particular women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Sunday.
“The meeting is intended to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban on these issues,” he added.
In a late Saturday tweet, the UN chief said, “Reversing all measures that restrict women’s rights to work is key to reaching the millions of people in Afghanistan that require humanitarian assistance.”
On Friday, Dujarric, the secretary-general’s spokesman, said the two-day gathering in Doha is aimed at focusing on reinvigorating “the international engagement around common objectives for a durable way forward on … Afghanistan.”
U.N. officials say the restriction on female aid workers has dealt a blow to humanitarian operations in the country where millions of Afghans are just a step away from famine-like conditions.
The UN has not released the list of special envoys who will be attending the Doha meeting, but the UN secretary-general “has not extended an invitation to the de facto [Taliban] authorities,” his spokesperson told reporters Friday.
“The Secretary-General has not extended an invitation to the de facto authorities,” Dujarric said.
Ahead of the talks, a small group of women staged a protest in Kabul on Saturday to oppose any international recognition of the Taliban government. But the UN and Western powers have said that this will not be discussed.
“Any kind of recognition of the Taliban is completely off the table,” said US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel.
UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, had suggested last week that the meeting in Doha “could find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition.”
The Taliban seized power in August 2021 as U.S.-led forces withdrew following 20 years of war.
In December, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly approved postponing, for the second time, a decision on whether to recognize the Afghan Taliban administration by allowing them to send a United Nations ambassador to New York.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned on Thursday a Taliban administration ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan and called on Taliban leaders to “swiftly reverse” a crackdown on the rights of women and girls.
The Taliban says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Taliban officials said decisions on female aid workers are an “internal issue.”