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Qatari foreign minister meets Taliban in Kabul

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Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that the country’s foreign minister had met with Taliban leader Mohammad Hasan Akhund in Kabul.

The Qatari foreign ministry noted that the two spoke about the Kabul airport’s operations and updates, efforts to promote peace in the country, and an emphasis on fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

The foreign ministry added that Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani had also met with a few others, including former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Sheikh Mohammed “urged the Afghan officials to engage all Afghan parties in the national reconciliation.”

The meeting is notable because Doha, Qatar, was the site where the Taliban and Afghan officials held peace negotiations before the insurgent group overtook the country, culminating in the fall of Kabul in mid-August. Qatar also assisted the United States in its evacuation efforts. 

Though the foreign ministry’s statement did not fully acknowledge that the group is the permanent governing body for Afghanistan, it came quite close, dubbing it the “newly appointed interim government of Afghanistan.”

The international community has largely remained wary of recognizing the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan, worrying that the group will rule as it did under the old guard despite promises that it will recognize the rights of women under Islamic framework and not go after old enemies.

Leon Panetta, former Defense secretary during the Obama administration, told Greta Van Susteren that he believed the Taliban had not changed over the last 20 years said that “​​it would be wise for the United States and the rest of the world not to trust the Taliban in terms of their work.”

“I think that the Taliban taking over Afghanistan is pretty much the same Taliban that controlled Afghanistan on 9/11,” Panetta told Van Susteren. “And that was pretty much confirmed recently when they appointed hard-liners to their government, people who were in power on 9/11, and in addition, appointed Haqqani as interior minister, a global terrorist, really, to be interior secretary and in charge of internal security.”

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