With the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan complete, Washington has transferred its Afghanistan-related diplomatic operations to Qatar. But the Taliban wants the US and other Western countries that have closed their embassies in Kabul to reopen them as the new Taliban-led government seeks international recognition.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group wants a diplomatic relationship with the US as well as a trade relationship. “America should have only a diplomatic presence in Kabul. We have communication channels with them and we expect them to reopen their embassy in Kabul and we also want to have trade relations with them,” he said, according to TOLO News.
Another Taliban official quoted by TOLO called for the world to recognize the new Afghan government. “We promise to the world, regional countries and neighboring countries that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against them. The world should recognize the Afghan government and cooperate with us on reconstruction and with investments,” said Ahmadullah Wasiq, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission.
On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban would have to “earn international recognition.” The US has frozen billions in Afghan reserves and successfully pressured the International Monetary Fund to suspend Afghanistan’s access to IMF funds.
The US could continue to use its control of the world’s financial system to pressure the Taliban, which by extension will hurt Afghanistan’s civilians. But Blinken suggested the US might be using this power as leverage so the Taliban would still allow US citizens and Afghans who worked with the US to leave Afghanistan.
Both China and Russia have kept their embassies open in Afghanistan and appear to be ready to engage with the Taliban government. Beijing seeks to invest in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are eager to work with China. “China, our great neighboring country, can have a constructive and positive role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and also in the economic development and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told This Week in Asia.