DOHA (Dispatches) – There is no clear path for unfreezing Afghan government funds, Qatar’s foreign minister told a conference on Wednesday, highlighting the economic challenges Afghanistan faces under its new Taliban rulers.
Qatar is hosting talks between the Taliban and Western officials and is seen as having influence over the Taliban.
Much of the Afghan central bank’s $10 billion in assets are parked overseas.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, reiterated Qatar’s position that recognizing the Taliban government was not currently a priority, but international engagement was important.
He added that abandoning Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover would be a mistake “no matter who is leading the government”.
“We have been saying from the beginning that an isolation will never be an answer and when we are talking about engagement, that is needed with whoever is governing Afghanistan because abandoning Afghanistan will be a big mistake,” he said.
The Qatari minister also touched on the rifts between the Persian Gulf Arab neighbors, saying a three-year-long blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt fractured the Persian Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) but the group’s six leaders are working on strengthening it once again.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia and its three Arab allies imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar, leveling accusations Doha has consistently denied.
The four nations agreed to restore full diplomatic and trade ties at a summit of GCC member states, including the other two members Kuwait and Oman, in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Speaking at the Global Security Forum held in Doha, Qatar’s top diplomat said there was a need to find “the means for preventative diplomacy”.
“We need to find a way to prevent our countries from being in such a crisis again,” he said.
The Qatari official also revealed that ties between Doha and Washington experienced some “hiccups” during president Donald Trump’s tenure because of “some personalities over there and some misunderstandings.”