Ready to speak to Taliban, Says UN Secretary-General


Geneva: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has hinted that he is ready to talk to the Taliban that has taken over Afghanistan.

“I’m ready to speak myself when it is clear with whom should I speak, for what purpose,” he said on Thursday at a briefing for reporters.

While answering a question about contacts with the Taliban, he said, “I have not spoken myself, but our people in Afghanistan are in close contact with the Taliban and very strongly conveying that message” of respect for human rights and preventing the use of the territory by terrorists.

“I was in close contact yesterday, the day before yesterday, with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar (Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani),” Guterres said. “We are following the Qatar Initiative and supporting it. Let’s hope that there will be a way for an inclusive government in Afghanistan.”

He said that the only leverage the international community has with the Taliban is its quest for legitimacy and all nations should be united and “speak with one voice” to be able to use this bargaining power.

“If we are successful on this (of getting Taliban agreement on the terms), I think there is a perspective for a renewal of the (Security Council) mandate with one kind of characteristics. If things go wrong, of course, we will have to look into a mandate adapted to whatever will come,” he said.

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