Afghanistan
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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

U.S. officials will meet Islamic Emirate representatives and “technocratic professionals” from key Afghan ministries during a visit to Doha this week, the State Department said on Wednesday, adding they will discuss economic issues, security and women’s rights, Reuters reported.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, and Doha, Qatar, from July 26 to July 31, the State Department said in a statement.

In Astana, they will meet with officials from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to discuss Afghanistan, said the statement, which added the U.S. officials will also meet civil society members focused on women’s rights.

The U.S. officials will meet the IEA delegation in Doha and discuss humanitarian support for Afghanistan, security issues, women’s rights, the Afghan economy’s stabilization, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking, the State Department said.

The meetings do not “mean any kind of indication of recognition or any kind of indication of normalization or legitimacy of the Taliban [IEA],” said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel when asked about the visit, reiterating U.S. concerns about human rights abuses and the marginalization of women and girls in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

“This does not indicate any change in the policy of the United States. We have been very clear that we will engage with the Taliban [IEA] appropriately when it is in our interest to do so,” Patel said.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan returned to power in 2021 when NATO and U.S. forces withdrew after a 20-year conflict. The chaotic evacuation saw thousands of desperate Afghans trying to enter Kabul airport and men clinging to aircraft as they taxied down runways. An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and more than 150 Afghans outside an airport gate, Reuters reported.

A State Department report last month criticized Democratic President Joe Biden and his Republican predecessor Donald Trump for the pullout, which was negotiated by Trump and executed under Biden.