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Afghanistan: US to resume talks with Taliban next week
The international community is still considering how to approach the new government in Afghanistan formed by the Taliban. The US announced that it would resume its talks with the insurgent group next week.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the US delegation led by the special envoy for Afghanistan, Tom West, will be reconvening with the insurgent group next week for two weeks of discussions.
Both parties will be discussing national interests such as counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda militant groups, humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the country’s collapsing economy, and safe passage out of Afghanistan for US citizens that still remain along with Afghans who have worked with the US during the nearly 20-year war.
West met with representatives of the Taliban in Pakistan two weeks ago. The first meeting between both sides took place from October 9 to 10 in Doha, Qatar. US diplomats oversaw relations between Afghanistan and the Taliban, as the insurgent group took control of Afghanistan following the US military’s withdrawal.
Last week, West reiterated to the Taliban the conditions of the US in order for them to receive financial and diplomatic support. Combating terrorism, installing an inclusive government, respecting the rights of minorities, women, and girls, and providing equal access to education and employment. West said that the US would continue to engage in dialogue with the Taliban but, for now, will only provide humanitarian aid.
This also follows the letter to US Congress by the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, urging lawmakers to release the country’s reserves that were frozen when the insurgent group took over Afghanistan.
In other related news, NBC News reports that the Taliban has turned the site where the Bamiyan Buddha statues once stood into a tourist attraction. The insurgent group, during their hardline regime in 2001, destroyed the statues. Since regaining control of Afghanistan and looking to present a more moderate image, the insurgent group is running a tourist attraction on the sites where the statues once were.
Tourists can pay $5 to take photos of the holes in the cliff face. Taliban officials man a booth and write out admission tickets for visiting tourists.