Optimism from EU’s Kabul representative ahead of Doha negotiations

- International - February 11, 2024

KABUL: The European Union Special Envoy for Afghanistan expressed a cautious sense of optimism on Thursday regarding the potential for progress in discussions at a UN-convened meeting on the country scheduled for this month.

Tomas Niklasson held a press conference at the conclusion of a four-day visit to Kabul, during which he engaged in meetings with senior Taliban officials in anticipation of a gathering of special envoys for Afghanistan set to take place in Qatar from February 18.

A similar meeting had occurred in Doha in May 2023, without the inclusion of Afghan representatives. However, both Afghan civil society members and Taliban authorities have been extended invitations to this year’s UN-convened meeting, scheduled to span two days. Nonetheless, questions remain regarding the nature of their participation and the agenda, as per Niklasson’s statements.

While Niklasson refrained from overly optimistic assessments, he did express a sense of increased optimism regarding the willingness and interest of the de facto authorities to address obstacles hindering engagement in the meeting.

He noted a generally positive reception and a lack of fundamental disagreements regarding the analysis and recommendations outlined in a recent UN independent assessment of Afghanistan, which will serve as a focal point for discussions.

Niklasson highlighted that Taliban officials reiterated their opposition to the recommendation for the appointment of a UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan.

The potential inclusion of such an envoy on the agenda for the Doha meeting remains uncertain.