KABUL: Qatar’s foreign minister, who is also the country’s deputy premier, was briefly in Afghanistan on Sunday, becoming the most senior diplomat to visit the country since the Taliban’s takeover on August 15.

A Taliban official tweeted that Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met senior officials of the new Afghan regime, although details of their talks were not disclosed.

The group released pictures of Sheikh Mohammad meeting new Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, while photographs of him with former president Hamid Karzai were circulating on social media.

Qatar has long acted as a mediator on Afghanistan, hosting the Taliban’s talks with the United States under former president Donald Trump, and then with the now deposed Afghan government of president Ashraf Ghani.

It is also supporting tens of thousands of Afghans who were evacuated in the final weeks of the US-led occupation as they are processed before heading to other nations.

No country has yet formally recognised the new Taliban government — and only three did during the first rule of the hardline Islamists from 1996-2001.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2021

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