TEHRAN (Iran News) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded with the international community to maintain a dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan, warning of an “economic collapse” in the country that could leave millions of Afghans dying as a consequence.
He says “we must maintain a dialogue with the Taliban, where we affirm our principles directly, a dialogue with a feeling of solidarity with the Afghan people”. The UN Chief adds “our duty is to extend our solidarity to a people who suffer greatly, where millions and millions risk dying of hunger”
Guterres has stressed there are “no guarantees” about what might come out of talks but that discussions are a must “if we want Afghanistan not to be a center of terrorism if we want women and girls to not lose all the rights acquired during the previous period if we want different ethnic groups to be able to feel represented”.
He has not ruled out traveling to Afghanistan, one day, if the conditions are right, saying “until now, in the discussions that we have had, there is at least a receptivity to talk”
Guterres also says the UN wishes “an inclusive government” where all components of Afghan society are represented, but “this first preliminary government” announced a few days ago “does not give that impression”.
“We need respect for human rights, women and girls. Terrorism must have no base in Afghanistan to launch operations in other countries and the Taliban must cooperate in the struggle against drugs”
He says Afghanistan must be governed “in peace and stability, with the rights of the people respected.”
Guterres adds that the Taliban wants recognition, financial support and sanctions to be abolished. The United States has frozen around $10 billion in Afghanistan’s assets, which experts say Washington will use as leverage against the Taliban.
“That gives certain leverage to the international community” Guterres agreed, adding that “an economic collapse situation which could create appalling humanitarian consequences” must be avoided.
Guterres suggested that it is possible to foresee the granting of “financial instruments” to Kabul that would not be subject to current sanctions.
“It is in the interest of the international community and I am not talking about the lifting of sanctions or recognition. I am talking about targeted measures to allow the Afghan economy to breathe”
In the weeks leading up to the August 31 U.S.-led withdrawal from Afghanistan; the Taliban made a lightning advance across the country capturing the capital Kabul, as the former Afghan government and army collapsed despite 20 years of U.S. support.