No official from Qatar has confirmed that the meetings took place in the Gulf state.
US officials reportedly met with members of the Taliban in Doha on Saturday for the first time since Washington assassinated Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri, two sources privy to the matter told CNN.
According to the media report, the US was represented by the CIA’s Deputy Director David Cohen and Washington’s State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West.
The interim Afghan government’s delegation was represented by head of intelligence, Abdul Haq Wasiq.
The latest meeting came just months after the US carried out an air raid in Afghanistan that killed Al Zawahiri.
The Taliban repeatedly said its administration had no knowledge of his presence, while the US accused the acting government of violating the 2020 Doha Agreement.
The agreement, signed in Doha under the Donald Trump administration, stipulated that the US will withdraw its forces on the condition that the Taliban halt its support for terrorist groups.
The deal was later revised under the Joe Biden administration, changing the deadline for the troop withdrawal to 31 August without conditions.
Commenting on the Doha Peace Agreement at the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) last month, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called on all parties to preserve and build on the achievements of the accord.
“We have repeatedly stressed the need to protect civilians, respect human and citizen rights in Afghanistan, including women’s rights, girls’ right to education, and achieve national reconciliation among the factions of the Afghan people,” Amir Tamim told the UNGA.
Speaking to Doha News on the sidelines of the UNGA, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Afghanistan will remain a concern in the absence of a clear roadmap for the country’s future.
“We have seen a growing humanitarian crisis over there, an economic crisis, as well as a growing concern on terrorism and terrorist organisations operating from there,” he said.
Qatar continued to host meetings between the international community and the Taliban after the group militarily seized control of Afghanistan on 15 August.
The Gulf state repeatedly stressed the need to not isolate the country and called on the international community to prioritise solutions to help Afghanistan out of its humanitarian crisis.
Last month, Qatar also helped assist the release of American national Mark Frerichs from Afghanistan, who was abducted in 2020.
“We are particularly grateful for Qatar’s assistance in this and, frankly, many other matters,” said a senior White House official during a press conference at the time of Frerichs’s release.
While Afghanistan was already struggling due to years of war and drought, the situation was made worse with the Taliban takeover last year.
Even prior to the developments in the country, Afghanistan was 75% dependent on foreign assistance.
In the wake of the Taliban rule, the international community halted aid to Afghanistan and the US froze billions of dollars worth of foreign assets.
In February, US President Joe Biden ordered the release of $7 billion of Afghanistan’s funds. However, the Biden administration only assigned $3.5 billion of the total amount to Afghans living under dire humanitarian conditions.
The other half of the funds was allocated towards victims of the 9/11 attack, a move that many described as the US “punishing” Afghans.
Qatar had hosted various meetings between the US and the Taliban, bringing together the two sides to discuss the issue.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), warned of universal poverty by mid-2022 as 97% of Afghans live below the poverty line.
A separate HRW report also stated that more than 90% of households have not been able to get a sufficient amount of food, with nearly half of the population suffering from food insecurity.