Taliban hopes donor countries hopes will pave the way for the country will refill cash-starved coffers as it teeters on the brink of economic collapse
Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders met Tuesday with U.K. officials for the first time since taking power, a move the group hopes will pave the way for the country to refill cash-starved coffers as it teeters on the brink of economic collapse, the Associated Press reports.
The Taliban said meanwhile they arrested 11 members of the rival Islamic State group.
The Taliban’s meeting with British diplomats in the capital Kabul came a day after they met with an Iranian delegation — another first since assuming the helm — to discuss trade relations, a key driver of Afghanistan’s economy.
The Taliban met with Sir Simon Gass, the British prime minister’s high representative for Afghan transition, and Martin Longden, the chargé d’affaires of the U.K. mission to Afghanistan in Doha.
The meeting marked Britain’s first diplomatic visit to the country since the Taliban seized Kabul on Aug. 15, and took control of Afghanistan following the U.S. exit.
After the meeting, Longden tweeted that “substantial discussions” were held with the Taliban leadership covering a wide range of topics, including the humanitarian crisis, terrorism and the importance for safe passage for U.K. and Afghan nationals, and the rights of women and girls.
He fell short of recognizing their government officially, a Taliban wish, and described the meeting as a “test.”
“It’s early days and unsurprisingly, there are points of difference between us. But such difficult challenges lie ahead for Afghanistan (and beyond),” he tweeted. “It’s right to test if we can engage pragmatically and find common ground — in the interests of both the UK and Afghan peoples.”
In a statement, the Taliban said it was committed to good relations with all countries. “In return, we want the international community to return the cash capital of the Afghan nation to our nation,” it said, referring to billions in Afghan assets frozen in U.S. accounts.
The Taliban met Monday with a delegation from neighboring Iran to regulate trade between the countries, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said. They agreed to increase trading hours at the Islam Qala border crossing from eight hours per day to 24 and to better regulate the collection of tariffs and improve roadworks. Customs are a key source of domestic revenue for Afghanistan.
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