Kabul, Jun 1 (EFE).- Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim traveled to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province last month to meet a top Taliban leader. marking the first visit of a leader of this stature to the country since it was seized by the rebels.
Bin Abderrahman’s visit to the southern province, which is the center of the Taliban movement, was mainly aimed at meeting Mohammad Hassan Akhund – an influential leader of the group – Afghan government spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told a local media outlet without revealing more details about the meeting.
The mid-May meeting came at a time when Akhund, a founding member of the Islamist group, had been serving as the prime minister of the regime that seized power in 2021.
On May 17, the Taliban announced that Akhund had been “temporarily” relieved of his duties as the PM – citing health reasons- and replaced by current Prime Minister Maulavi Abdul Kabir.
Kandahar is also the place of residence of the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, who rarely leaves the region, although it is not known if the Qatari leader held a meeting with the Taliban chief.
The Taliban have made great efforts to get international recognition, which is key to receiving crucial financial aid and access to government funds frozen overseas.
Taliban deputy spokesperson Bilal Karimi refused to divulge more details of Abderrahman’s visit when approached by EFE.
Qatar played a key role in the Afghan crisis following the withdrawal of the United States in 2021 due to its ties with the Taliban and helped organize evacuation of people through the resumption of flights from Kabul, thus becoming a center of intense diplomatic activity as mediator.
The Arab nation was also the first in sending a high-ranking official to Afghanistan once the Taliban established control in August 2021, when Abderrahman himself visited the country in the capacity of the foreign minister at the time, barely a month after Kabul fell to the Islamists.
As a mediator, Qatar had hosted peace talks between the Taliban and the US and also was the site of a United Nations summit in May over the situation in Afghanistan, whose government has not been recognized by the international community.
In the closed-door summit, the participants promised to boost cooperation with the embattled nation, facing a humanitarian and economic crisis for decades which has been aggravated after the Taliban takeover. However, they have maintained their stance of not recognizing the regime. EFE