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    UN Warned by Taliban Authorities for Excluding Afghanistan Talks

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    UN chief Antonio Guterres held talks in Doha with world powers on how to deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders. The Taliban government had banned Afghan women from working for the United Nations, which led the world body to put its relief operations in Afghanistan under review. Women are also banned from working for other NGOs, and are barred from almost all secondary and university education and most government jobs.

    The talks involve envoys from the United States, Russia, China and 20 other countries and organizations, including major European donors and neighbors such as Pakistan, but exclude the Taliban government. The head of the Taliban political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said that any meeting without the participation of the Taliban is unproductive and sometimes counter-productive.

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    Meanwhile, Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi will lead a delegation to Islamabad at the end of the week for talks with Pakistani and Chinese officials. The UN Security Council last week unanimously condemned the ban on its Afghan women staff, which seriously threatened its efforts to aid the population.

    Women’s groups staged protests on Saturday fearing the Doha meeting could propose steps toward recognition of the Taliban administration that returned to power in August 2021. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that recognition of the Taliban administration is not up for discussion at the talks, which are being held behind closed doors.

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    The meeting would discuss human rights, including women’s rights, Afghanistan’s governance and ways to counter terrorism and drug trafficking. Guterres wants a common understanding with the international community on how to engage with the Taliban on these issues. The UN review of its Afghanistan operation is due to be completed on Friday, and the world body has said it faces an appalling choice on whether to stay in the country.

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