Taliban ask to speak at UN General Assembly in NY

RP | Published: 9:47 AM Sep 22 2021
World Taliban ask to speak at UN General Assembly in NY

The Taliban have asked to address world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York City.

The group's foreign minister made the request in a letter on Monday (20), to which a UN committee is due to respond. 

The request to participate in the high-level debate is being considered by a credentials committee, whose nine members include the US, China and Russia, according to a UN spokesperson.

But they are unlikely to meet before the end of the General Assembly session next Monday. Until then, under UN rules, Ghulam Isaczai will remain Afghanistan's ambassador to the global body.

He is expected to make a speech on the final day of the meeting on 27 September. However, the Taliban said his mission "no longer represents Afghanistan".

The Taliban also nominated their Doha-based spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, as Afghanistan's UN ambassador, stating that the envoy for the ousted government no longer represented the country.

They further said that several countries no longer recognised former President Ashraf Ghani as leader.

Mr Ghani abruptly left Afghanistan as Taliban militants advanced on the capital, Kabul, on 15 August. He has since taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates.

When the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001, the ambassador of the government they overthrew stayed on as a UN representative, after the credentials committee deferred its decision on competing claims for the position.

At the UN meeting on Tuesday, Qatar urged world leaders to stay engaged with the Taliban.

"Boycotting them would only lead to polarisation and reactions, whereas dialogue could be fruitful," said Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Qatar has become a key broker in Afghanistan. It hosted talks between the Taliban and US which culminated in a 2020 agreement to withdraw US-led Nato forces.

RP | Published: 9:47 AM Sep 22 2021

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