UN: Taliban recognition not a focus of Afghanistan meeting

This file photo dated Oct 14, 2019 shows the United Nations headquarters in New York. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – A UN-convened meeting on Afghanistan next month will not focus on the possible international recognition of the Taliban administration, a UN spokesperson stressed on Thursday after comments by the deputy UN chief sparked concern and confusion.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to host a closed-door gathering in Doha on May 1-2 of special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries. His deputy, Amina Mohammed, suggested on Monday the gathering "could find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition."

"The Doha conference on the 1st and 2nd of May is not focusing on recognition and we don't want there to be any confusion about that," said deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq. "The point of discussion … is to build a more unified consensus on the challenges at hand."

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The Taliban seized power in August 2021 as US-led forces withdrew following 20 years of war.

In this file photo dated Sept 9, 2021, Taliban flags fly at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (PHOTO / AP)

In December, the 193-member UN General Assembly approved postponing, for the second time, a decision on whether to recognize the Afghan Taliban administration by allowing them to send a United Nations ambassador to New York.

Earlier this month the Taliban began enforcing a ban on Afghan women working for the United Nations after stopping most women working for humanitarian aid groups in December. 

Since toppling the Western-backed government, they have also tightened controls over women's access to public life, including barring women from university and closing most girls' high schools.

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The Taliban says it respects women's rights in accordance with its strict interpretation of Islamic law.