Qatar has hosted the Taliban’s political office in Doha since 2012 and has served as a key mediator between the group and the international community.
The United Nations chief said he would be willing to sit down with the Taliban when it is the right time to do so, though now is not the time.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Doha on Tuesday, Antonio Guterres said:”When it is the right moment to do so, I will obviously not refuse that possibility.
“Today is not the right moment to do so,” he added.
The press conference in the Qatari capital wrapped up a UN-hosted meeting that brought together representatives from around 25 countries and groups to discuss the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
However, Guterres said the two-day meeting was about developing a common international approach and certainly not about the recognition of the de-facto Taliban authority.
The statement made by the UN secretary-general came as speculations over a possible recognition of the acting government emerged following comments by the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who hinted towards “baby steps” in recognising the Taliban last week.
The meeting was designed to develop “a common international approach, not about recognition of the de facto Taliban authorities,” Guterres assured in Doha.
“What was important is that we all understand each other’s concerns and limitations but agreed that it was in everyone’s interest for most the Afghans to work together,” he said of the meeting.
The official said that in order to achieve the optimal objectives, “we cannot disengage”.
“We stay and we deliver and we are determined to seek the necessary conditions to keep delivering […] participants agreed on the need for a strategy of engagement,” Guterres added.
The official also vowed to continue assembling in order to move forward and prioritise the Afghan people.
The meeting in Doha on Tuesday was held as the UN reviews its crucial relief effort in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s denial of Afghan women’s employment in the international organisation.
Guterres noted that the Taliban’s announcement of a ban on female Afghan UN employees last month violated human rights. “We will never be silent in the face of unprecedented systemic attacks on women’s and girls’ rights,” he said.
Despite the Taliban’s restrictions on its female staff, the UN will continue to operate in Afghanistan to provide aid to millions of Afghans in need, however, “funding is evaporating,” the UN official said.
He issued a dire financial pledge shortfall warning for this year’s humanitarian appeal, which is only slightly over 6% financed and falls short of the $4.6 billion requested for a nation where 97% of the population live in poverty.
During the conference, Guterres also announced that after a round of consultations, he is ready to convene a new but similar meeting.