UN establishes formal ties with Taliban-governed Afghanistan

The resolution includes several strands of cooperation, on the humanitarian, political and human rights fronts, including those of women, children and journalists.

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UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council voted Thursday to establish formal ties with Taliban-run Afghanistan, which has yet to win widespread international recognition. It did so in approving a resolution that does not use the word Taliban and spells out the new one-year mandate of the UN political mission in Afghanistan, which it said was “crucial” to peace in the country. The vote was 14 in favor, with one abstention, by Russia. The resolution includes several strands of cooperation, on the humanitarian, political and human rights fronts, including those of women, children and journalists. “This new mandate for UNAMA (the UN mission to Afghanistan) is crucial not only to respond to the immediate humanitarian and economic crisis, but also to reach our overarching goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Norwegian UN ambassador Mona Juul, whose country drafted the resolution, told after the vote. Afghan embassies around the world that have refused to recognize the new Taliban regime are struggling to stay afloat and facing increasing pressure from Kabul to accept loyalist replacements. None of the country’s 60 or so ambassadors, consuls or heads of diplomatic missions who were appointed by Western-backed former president Ashraf Ghani have agreed to serve the hard-line Islamist group since it seized power in August last year.

The Taliban government has yet to be formally recognized by any nation, and the international community is grappling with how to deal with the country’s new rulers while also helping Afghans face an economic and humanitarian crisis.

“We are in a very unfortunate … situation, but we still have to continue to operate in these difficult circumstances,” said Youssof Ghafoorzai, the ambassador to Norway. “The embassies still have a very important role to play in terms of trying to increase whatever humanitarian support is possible. But also (to help) discussions on the political track… to stabilize the situation.” Aid and cash reserves, frozen by the United States and the international community after the Taliban seized control, are trickling back into the country, which has long depended almost entirely on donors. But Ghafoorzai and his colleagues have had no contact with the new regime, and staff have not been paid for months. The Afghan embassy and its consulates in the United States are being shut in the coming week. “The Afghan Embassy and consulates are under severe financial pressure. Their bank accounts are not available to them,” a US State Department official told. The embassy and Washington have made arrangements for an “orderly shutdown of operations in a way that would protect and preserve all diplomatic mission property in the United States until operations are able to resume,” the official said. Across the world, Afghan ambassadors have been forced to dramatically scale down their activities, reduce energy bills and food costs, and even move into smaller premises.

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