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Afghanistan Protests Pakistan Invitation To Taliban

Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of political office of the Taliban in Qatar, at a conference in Moscow on February 5.
Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of political office of the Taliban in Qatar, at a conference in Moscow on February 5.

Afghanistan has expressed concerns to the UN Security Council about a planned visit by Taliban negotiators to Pakistan, asserting that the militant group’s members traveling to Islamabad are under UN sanctions and that Kabul should have been consulted prior to any such meeting.

Taliban negotiators on February 14 announced they will meet U.S. representatives in Pakistan on February 18 as part of ongoing Afghan peace talks and that they will also meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold "comprehensive discussions about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations."

In a letter to the Security Council seen by RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal, the Afghan UN mission wrote that the Taliban-Pakistan meeting “constitutes a violation of the national sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

“These engagements, which are taking place under the pretext of support for peace efforts in Afghanistan, are void of any degree of coordination and consultation with the government of Afghanistan,” it said.

The letter said that an invitation by Khan for a Taliban delegation to travel to Pakistan for talks “amounts to the official recognition and legitimization of an armed-group that poses a serious threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan, and whose members are sanctioned by provisions of the UN Security Council's 1988 Committee’s Sanctions Regime.”

Pakistan has not responded to remarks made in the Afghan letter to the Security Council.

The United States has not officially commented on the Taliban’s announcement of a potential meeting in Islamabad.

Tensions run high between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kabul and Washington have accused Islamabad of providing safe havens for terrorists in its territory, allowing them to cross the border into Afghanistan and attack government troops and Western forces. Pakistan denies the allegations.

The discussions in Islamabad would come a week before previously scheduled February 25 talks in Qatar between U.S. officials and Taliban negotiators.

Talks between U.S. officials -- including Zalmay Khalilzad, the special peace envoy for Afghanistan -- have intensified in recent months. Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators have both said progress has been made, but U.S. officials caution that much work needs to be done before an agreement can be finalized.

The U.S.-Taliban talks are aimed at finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan's 17-year war.

The United States has been attempting to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with officials in Kabul.

The Afghan government has been absent from the U.S.-Taliban talks, prompting anger and frustration in Kabul. The Taliban considers the Kabul government a Western puppet and has so far refused to directly negotiate with it.

U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan since an October 2001 invasion that brought down the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Al-Qaeda terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, blamed for launching the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.