CAIRO (Reuters) -Taliban representatives asked the United States to lift a ban on Afghan central bank reserves at a meeting with U.S. counterparts https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/exclusive-us-delegation-meet-taliban-first-high-level-talks-since-pullout-2021-10-08 in Doha, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister said on Saturday in remarks reported by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television.
The minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, also said Washington would offer Afghans coronavirus vaccines, Al-Jazeera reported, after the first senior face-to-face meeting between the two sides since the hardline group took over the country in August following a U.S. troop pullout.
The minister added that the Afghan delegation and U.S. counterparts discussed “opening a new page” between the two countries, adversaries during the United States’ two-decade long occupation of Afghanistan.
Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large over Afghanistan. They are trying to formulate how to engage with the Taliban without granting it the legitimacy it seeks while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.
The departure of U.S.-led forces and many international donors robbed the country of grants that financed 75% of public spending, according to the World Bank.
Speaking to Reuters earlier in Washington, a U.S. official said that while there was an improvement for humanitarian actors to get access to some areas that they haven’t been to in a decade, problems still persisted, adding that the U.S. delegation at the Doha talks would press the Taliban to improve.
Mutaki also said that the Afghan delegation focus at the meeting was humanitarian aid and implementing Doha agreement.
He said the discussions would continue on Saturday and would resume on Sunday. Mutaki added the Afghan delegation will meet European Union representatives to discuss latest developments, but he didn’t mention when the meeting will be held.
(Reporting by Moataz Abdelrahiem and Omar Fahmy; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean)