World powers agree at UN on inclusive Afghan government

·2 min read

The five permanent UN Security Council members found common ground Wednesday on Afghanistan with officials saying all the powers would press the Taliban to be more inclusive after their military takeover.

China and Russia have described last month's Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and moved to work with the insurgents, but no country has moved to recognize a government that includes international pariahs.

The Security Council powers all want "a peaceful and stable Afghanistan where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination," Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after the meeting during the annual General Assembly.

They seek "an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girl are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population," he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Russia met in person while their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi joined them virtually for the talks of just over an hour.

A US official described the meeting called by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as "constructive" and with "a lot of convergence," including hopes that the Taliban respect the rights of women and girls.

"I don't think anybody is satisfied with the composition of this interim government, including the Chinese," the official said.

Speaking to AFP before the meeting, China's ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, agreed that the five powers all wanted an inclusive government.

"Unity is everywhere," he said.

China has previously criticized the United States for freezing billions of dollars in Afghan assets.

But Beijing is also keen for the neighboring nation not to be a base for outside extremist groups.

Afghanistan was also the subject of virtual talks by the Group of 20 major economies that included the participation of several other nations including Qatar, the hub for Taliban diplomacy.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, addressing the G20, renewed concern about the Islamists' caretaker government which includes no non-Taliban and no women but has ministers blacklisted by the United Nations on terrorism allegations.

"The announcement of a non-inclusive government was a tactical mistake by the Taliban, as it will make it harder for us to engage with them," Maas said.

"It is important that they hear this from all of us. And we should also speak with one voice when it comes to the basic political parameters and benchmarks for any future engagement with them."

The Taliban have requested to speak at the UN General Assembly but the United States, which sits on the credentialing committee, has made clear that no decision will be made before the summit ends early next week.

prh-sct/ch

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