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All Five Permanent Members Of Security Council Seek 'Peaceful, Stable' Afghanistan, Guterres Says

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (file photo)

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are united on seeking a stable Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on September 22 after talks among the foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

All five powers want "a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination," Guterres told reporters after the meeting.

They seek "an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population," he said.

The U.S. secretary of state and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Russia met in person on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Their Chinese counterpart joined them virtually for the talks. None of the ministers spoke to the press afterward.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss sought the meeting, voicing hope for unity on how to approach the Taliban.

Britain, which is currently coordinating the so-called P5 group of permanent Security Council members, said Truss aimed to use the meeting to call for greater cooperation to improve international security.

The Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan last month as the United States and NATO troops withdrew from the country has raised fears that Afghanistan could again become a haven for Islamist militants planning to carry out strikes on the West.

China and Russia have described the Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and have moved to work with the Islamist insurgents, but they have held off on recognizing the Taliban-led government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has advocated for the gradual unfreezing of Afghanistan's assets and restoration of programs through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Washington put a freeze on Afghanistan's central-bank assets and the IMF cut off the Taliban-led government from the international lender's resources, including $500 million that was to be distributed on August 23.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said economic sanctions on Afghanistan must end and called for Afghanistan's foreign-exchange reserves to be used by the people of Afghanistan and not as a bargaining chip to exert political pressure on Afghanistan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wang made the comments in a speech at a virtual Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting on Afghanistan on September 22.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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