Qatar’s prime minister meets with Taliban’s supreme leader, reports say
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The supreme leader of the Taliban met in Afghanistan with Qatar’s prime minister last month, the first-such publicly known meeting between the Taliban’s reclusive leader and a foreign official, reports say.

Haibatullah Akhunzada met Qatar’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on May 12 in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, Al Jazeera English said. Sheikh Mohammed also is the foreign minister of Qatar, an energy-rich nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

The state-owned broadcaster did not specifically discuss what the two officials spoke about, though it described the meeting as aimed at ways to end the Taliban’s international isolation.

Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, left, met Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani for talks in Afghanistan in May reports say. (AP)

Qatari government officials declined to discuss the meeting, which Reuters first reported. The Taliban did not respond to requests for comment regarding the meeting. The US State Department declined to comment.

It’s unclear what effect such a meeting will have.

The Taliban seized Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

In the time since, Afghanistan has become the most repressive in the world for women and girls, depriving them of virtually all their basic rights, according to the UN. Hunger remains endemic.

Taliban fighters also exchanged gunfire with Iranian border guards last Saturday.

The rights of women and minorities in Afghanistan have been curtailed since the Taliban came to power in 2021. (AP)

Qatar, which hosts a major US military base in the region, served as a crucial point for those fleeing the Taliban in the chaotic days of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Qatar also hosts a diplomatic post for the Taliban and hosted talks between the group and then-US president Donald Trump’s administration.

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