Taliban authorities will attend the third round of United Nations-hosted talks on Afghanistan in the Qatari capital, a government spokesman said on Sunday, after snubbing an invitation to the previous round.

The Taliban government’s participation in the conference of foreign special envoys to Afghanistan had been in doubt after it was not included in the first round and then refused an invitation to the second round in February.

“A delegation of the Islamic Emirate will participate in the coming Doha conference. They will represent Afghanistan there and express Afghanistan’s position,” Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

The talks in Doha are scheduled to be held on June 30 and July 1.

Mujahid told Afghan media on Sunday that a delegation — yet to be announced — would attend because the agenda of the talks appeared “beneficial to Afghanistan”.

The agenda includes “topics such as aid for Afghanistan and creating opportunities for investors in Afghanistan, which are important”, he said.

Civil society groups that included women were invited to the February talks but the Taliban government refused to participate unless its members could be the sole representatives of Afghanistan.

It also requested to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Guterres said in a statement after the February talks the set of conditions to participate “were not acceptable”, but that delegates hoped for Taliban officials to attend future meetings.

Diplomatic sources told AFP there were plans to consult with civil society groups before and after the third round.

The sources said the talks were due to cover finance and economic issues, as well as counternarcotics efforts.

Several civil society groups have also urged the UN to prioritise issues involving women’s rights at the meeting.

The international community has wrestled with its approach to Afghanistan’s new government, which has not been recognised by any other state, in the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.

The Taliban government has imposed a strict interpretation of Islam, with women subjected to laws characterised by the UN as “gender apartheid”.

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