Taliban warns US not to ‘destabilize’ regime in face-to-face talks | World News

The Taliban warned the US not to “destabilize” the regime during their first face-to-face talks since the US withdrawal, its foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Saturday.

Muttaqi’s comments come as the Taliban seek to re-establish their rule in Afghanistan, 20 years after the hard-line Islamists were driven out by the US-led invasion.

“We told them clearly that trying to destabilize the government in Afghanistan is good for no-one,” Muttaqi told Afghanistan’s state news agency Bakhtar after talks in Qatari’s capital, Doha.

“Good relations with Afghanistan are good for everyone. Nothing should be done to weaken the current government in Afghanistan that can lead to problems for the people,” he said, in a recorded statement translated by AFP.

Muttaqi’s comments came on the first of two days of talks with a team in the US led by State Department Deputy Special Representative Tom West and USAID’s top humanitarian officer, Sarah Charles.

He said the United States would also help vaccinate Afghans against Covid-19.

No immediate comment on the talks was available from the US side.

“The US delegation decided that they will cooperate with us to vaccinate and provide human cooperation,” Muttaqi said.

He added: “It is promised that states will have good relations with each other and have patience while Afghanistan is going through a very difficult time, so Afghanistan will come out of this state with more strength.”

The hardline Taliban regained power in August as the United States ended its two-decade occupation with a withdrawal that included a chaotic air lift of foreign and Afghan residents.

Mosque attack

Their efforts to consolidate their rule have been undermined by a series of attacks by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), which allegedly bombed a Shiite mosque that left more than 60 people dead on Friday.

Afghanistan’s economy is also teetering on the brink of collapse, with international aid cut off, food prices soaring and unemployment spiking.

Muttaqi said the Taliban wanted to hold meetings with other countries as well as the United States to discuss Afghanistan’s difficulties.

“We try to have such meetings and gatherings with the United States and other countries of the world and to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan, listen to each other’s views,” Muttaqi said.

“The economy or any other issues facing the people of Afghanistan should be resolved. The present government of Afghanistan is committed to having good relations with and co-operating with other states, to facilitate its people and provide services to them.

“This is what we want and we are trying to discuss these areas with other countries.”

Prior to the talks, a US State Department official said his priorities were to ensure a safe passage for U.S. citizens and other citizens who want to leave Afghanistan, and ensure that the Taliban does not allow “terrorists” to operate on Afghan soil.

“This meeting is not about acknowledging or granting legitimacy. We remain clear that any legitimacy must be gained through the actions of the Taliban itself,” the official said.