Taliban foreign minister arrives in Samarkand
Photo: Hafiz Zia Ahmad via Twitter

Taliban foreign minister arrives in Samarkand as it hosts regional talks on Afghanistan

The Taliban foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has arrived in the Uzbek city of Samarkand as it is hosting the 4th ministerial meeting between foreign ministers of the seven neighboring countries of Afghanistan plus Russia. Previously, it was reported that the Taliban was not invited to attend the meeting.

According to the Acting Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, Bakhtiyor Saidov, foreign ministers of Russia, China, and Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs have already arrived in Samarkand. “Glad to see Foreign Minister of Russia H.E. Sergey Lavrov (@mfa_russia) arrived in #Samarkand today,” Saidov said in a tweet on Thursday.

Contrary to media reports that the Taliban was not invited to attend the high-level regional meeting on Afghanistan, the group’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, also landed today in Samarkand to attend the meeting. “The foreign minister will also have bilateral meetings with some foreign ministers of the region on the sideling of this meeting,” Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for the Taliban foreign ministry, said in a tweet.

The high-level regional meeting, set to kick off on Thursday, is focused on discussing further steps by regional partners to facilitate an Afghan political settlement and stabilize the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Iran, and China have respectively hosted the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounds of the ministerial meetings in 2021 and 2022. The regional initiative aimed at facilitating an Afghan political settlement was initiated in September 2021, shortly after the Taliban swept back into power in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, a council of the Taliban’s political opponents, mostly comprised of Jihadi leaders and former Afghan government officials, called on the attendants of the meeting to pressure the Taliban and help Afghan people replace the group’s rule with a democratic government.

They described the Taliban as a threat to the security of regional countries and to the world.