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UN chief to host special envoys on Afghanistan in Qatar

The UN chief will be hosting a special meeting on Afghanistan next month, his office said on Thursday.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the two-day closed-door meeting will be held in the Qatari capital Doha on May 1 and 2.

“The purpose of this kind of small group meeting is for us to reinvigorate the international engagement around the common objectives for a durable way forward on the situation in Afghanistan,” Dujarric said in a daily news briefing on Thursday.

A transcript of the news conference read that the UN chief will host special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries.

It will be the first such meeting hosted by the UN chief on Afghanistan.

Guterres “has said and continues to believe,” Dujarric told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, “that it’s an urgent priority to advance an approach based on pragmatism and principles, combined with strategic patience, and to identify parameters for creative, flexible, principled, and constructive engagement.”

“It is his aim that the discussions, which will be held behind closed doors, can contribute to a more unified consensus regarding the challenges ahead,” said Dujarric.

The UN chief’s spokesman also responded to questions on comments made by Guterres’ deputy Amina Mohammed wherein she had reportedly said the UN was planning a conference to debate granting recognition to the Taliban, the de facto authorities in Afghanistan.

The “topic of recognition … is clearly in the hands of the (UN) member states,” Dujarric emphasized.

Taliban returned to power in Kabul in 2021 after two decades of fighting with the US and allied forces.

“And it’s a fact, it’s according to the (UN) Charter, and there’s no question on that,” he added.

Dujarric said the UN deputy chief Mohammed “has really been on the front lines of fighting for the inalienable rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.”

In January, Mohammed traveled to Afghanistan and visited the capital Kabul besides Kandahar and Herat provinces.

“She spoke directly, face to face with Taliban leaders on this issue,” Dujarric added.

Referring to Mohammed’s speech on Monday at the School of Public and International Affairs at the US-based Princeton University, Dujarric said the UN deputy chief “was reaffirming the need for the international community to have a coordinated approach regarding Afghanistan.”

The coordinated approach, Dujarric added: “includes finding common ground on the longer-term vision of the country and sending a unified message to the de facto authorities on the imperative to ensure that women have their rightful place in Afghan society.”

On planning the conference of special envoys, Mohammed had said: “And out of that, we hope that we’ll find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition (of the Taliban), a principled recognition.”

“Is it possible? I don’t know. (But) that discussion has to happen. The Taliban clearly want recognition, and that’s the leverage we have,” she said in a conversation at Princeton, discussing the implementation of the UN’s sustainable development goals in their final decade, the relevancy of multilateralism, and the role of the UN today – with a focus on the present state of Afghanistan.

Dujarric said: “Mohammed was not, I think, in any way implying that anyone else but member states have the authority for recognition.”

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