Meeting NATO, Blinken warns Ukraine gains in doubt if no US aid

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - KABUL: Afghanistan’s foreign minister on Monday called for “constructive engagement” with the international community, but rejected the need for the appointment of a United Nations special envoy to his country.

Amir Khan Muttaqi was addressing a conference in Kabul that brought together special envoys and representatives from 11 countries, including China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India.

He called for “developing regional cooperation for a constructive engagement... to tackle existing and potential threats in the region.”

The Taliban’s government in Kabul has not been officially recognized by any other government since it took power in 2021, imposing a strict interpretation of Islam that has restricted women from almost all aspects of public life.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan respects others’ interests, choices, government structures, and development models, and in return, expects others to respect Afghanistan’s interests,” Muttaqi told reporters.

Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi (C) speaks during a conference of special envoys from different countries titled 'Afghanistan's Regional Cooperation Initiative' at the Foreign Ministry in Kabul on January 29, 2024. (AFP)

Afghanistan’s economy has struggled through decades of war, a crisis deepened by international sanctions on the banking system and foreign assets after the Taliban government came to power.

In December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for the appointment of a special envoy for Afghanistan, a post that Kabul rejected as “unnecessary.”

On Monday, Muttaqi repeated that rejection, saying Afghanistan “does not need another UN special representative.”

The UN is due to hold a meeting on the situation in Afghanistan on February 18 and 19 in the Qatari capital Doha.

The aim of the meeting will be “to discuss how to approach increasing international engagement in a more coherent, coordinated and structured manner,” according to a UN statement.

Muttaqi called on participants of the Kabul meeting to present the “ground realities” at that conference.

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