Islamists say they Afghan government has been overthrown, but diplomatic protocols will delay any change of recognition to new government

Who should represent Afghanistan at the United Nations this month? It’s a complex question with plenty of political implications, the Associated Press’ Edith Lederer reports from New York.

The Taliban, the country’s new rulers for a matter of weeks, are challenging the credentials of their country’s former U.N. ambassador and want to speak at the General Assembly’s high-level meeting of world leaders this week, the international body says.

The question now facing U.N. officials comes just over a month after the Taliban, ejected from Afghanistan by the United States and its allies after 9/11, swept back into power as U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from the country at the end of August. The Taliban stunned the world by taking territory with surprising speed and little resistance from the U.S.-trained Afghan military. The Western-backed government collapsed on Aug. 15.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a communication on Sept. 15 from the currently accredited Afghan Ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, with the list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the assembly’s 76th annual session.

Five days later, Guterres received another communication with the letterhead “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” signed by “Ameer Khan Muttaqi” as “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” requesting to participate in the U.N. gathering of world leaders.

Muttaqi said in the letter that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was “ousted” as of Aug. 15 and that countries across the world “no longer recognize him as president,” and therefore Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan, Dujarric said.

The Taliban said it was nominating a new U.N. permanent representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, the U.N. spokesman said. He has been a spokesman for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar.

Senior U.S. State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban’s request — the United States is a member of the U.N. credentials committee — but they would not predict how that panel might rule. However, one of the officials said the committee “would take some time to deliberate,” suggesting the Taliban’s envoy would not be able to speak at the General Assembly at this session at least during the high-level leaders’ week.

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