Pakistan will host the United States, China and Russia this week for talks on Afghanistan as part of what is known as the “troika plus” process.
Officials in Islamabad confirmed to VOA that Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Afghan Taliban’s foreign minister, has also been invited to the meeting, scheduled for Thursday, describing his participation as a “major” development.
Newly appointed US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and his Russian, Chinese and Pakistani colleagues will lead their respective delegations during the talks.
The leaders are expected to reiterate the international call to the Islamist Taliban to ensure inclusiveness in political governance in Kabul and to protect the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities.
Pakistani officials said Muttaqi will arrive in the country on Wednesday as the head of a high-level ministerial delegation and hold extensive bilateral talks with counterparts in Islamabad before joining the multilateral meeting the next day.
Moscow hosted the previous troika
Moscow hosted the last Troika-plus talks in October, but Washington stayed away from the meeting for logistical reasons. A day before talks in the Russian capital, then-US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had resigned and officials said his successor, West, was unwilling to attend the meeting in Moscow.
West left Washington earlier in the week on his maiden voyage to Europe and Asia to discuss with allies and partners the way forward in Afghanistan. He told reporters in Brussels on Monday that he will visit Pakistan later this week, but did not share further details.
Thursday’s troika-plus meeting comes amid the United Nations’ calls on donor countries to scale up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, saying more than half of the country’s estimated 40 million residents are likely this winter. will go hungry.
The Taliban returned to power in Kabul last August following the withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of involvement in the war.
The global community has ignored the Taliban’s call to recognize their interim government in Kabul over human rights concerns and lack of inclusiveness in the governance system.
Financial aid stopped
Western countries have cut billions of dollars in financial aid to the country and blocked the Taliban’s access to nearly $10 billion in Afghan foreign assets, mostly in the United States.
The restrictions have plunged Afghanistan into an economic crisis, pushing humanitarian needs to record highs, stemming from years of war and a prolonged widespread drought.
“The Taliban have very clearly and openly expressed their desire to normalize relations with the international community, to see a resumption of aid, to see a return of the international diplomatic community to Kabul and to see the easing of sanctions. ” said West in Brussels. And the United States can’t deliver any of these things alone, and we need to work with the international community to see those things.”
West said Washington was “not thinking seriously” at this point about reopening its embassy in Kabul. “I think we want the Taliban to set a record of responsible behavior, predictable behavior, and then we’ll assess our diplomatic needs.”