The latest: US Department of State said that Thomas West, the US special representative for Afghanistan, is scheduled to meet with political leaders, journalists, civil and human rights activists of the country in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
- These meetings are to be held separately from April 11 to 18 and although the US Department of State did not comment specifically about the purpose of West’s trip, it added that the purpose was to conduct outreach in the region regarding Afghanistan.
- In Doha, West will meet with Qatari colleagues, Afghan civil society leaders, and partner missions. In the UAE, West will meet with Emirati counterparts, Afghan business and thought leaders. In Istanbul, he will hold consultations with Afghan political leaders, journalists, humanitarian professionals and human rights activists.
- The meetings will help secure input from the international community as the global world seeks solutions to Afghanistan’s compounding challenges, made worse by the Taliban’s recent decisions to limit women’s participation in humanitarian operations.
- It should be noted that since the time of Taliban’s rule, successive meetings have been held by the representatives of different countries of the world to find a political solution to the current situation in the country, but none of these meetings have yielded tangible results.
Why it matters? West’s visit comes amid a growing outcry among the international community following yet another order by the Taliban against women – this time against women working for the UN in Afghanistan.
- Earlier on Tuesday, the United Nations issued a statement condemning the Taliban’s decision and said that through this ban, the Taliban seek to “force the United Nations into having to make an appalling choice between staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people and standing by the norms and principles we are duty-bound to uphold.”
- The UN in Afghanistan also said that it had instructed all its national personnel – women and men – to stay home for the time being and will review its mission in the country.
Zoom out: This comes even as there are other consultative meetings being held across the region. The fourth round of meetings of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries will be held on Thursday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
- It is expected that the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to participate in the Samarkand meeting.
- The meeting participants plan to discuss “further steps of regional partners to promote an Afghan political settlement and stabilization of the humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in that country,” according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
- “Taking into account the complicated security situation, growing terrorist activity, and narcotic drug production in Afghanistan, coordination of counterterrorist and anti-narcotic efforts of the countries of the region is particularly essential,” it said.
- Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has said that Beijing seeks to strengthen the consensus of neighbouring countries on the situation in Afghanistan. Wenbin added that China supports the “Afghan interim government” to achieve stability and development.
- Wenbin added that China supports the Taliban government to overcome the security challenges and poor economic situation in Afghanistan, but at the same time, “it pays attention to the legitimate concerns of the world [about the Taliban] and wishes to see a more favourable condition for the development of relations between Afghanistan and neighbouring countries”.
- In March last year, China hosted the third meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries in Tunxi, Anhui Province, and published the Tunxi Initiative of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries on Supporting Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction and pragmatic cooperation, which was widely praised by the international community.