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Taliban Asks To Address World Leaders At UN General Assembly

The Taliban request was sent in a letter dated September 20, the day before the UN General Assembly got under way. (file photo)

The Taliban has asked to address world leaders at this week's UN General Assembly meeting in New York, a move met with skepticism by the international community

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a letter from the Taliban "requesting to participate" in the high-level debate, said Guterres's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

The letter was dated September 20, the day before the UN General Assembly got under way, and was signed by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

The move was openly opposed by Germany, whose foreign minister said a "show" by Afghanistan's new rulers would serve no purpose.

"To schedule a show at the United Nations won't serve anything," Heiko Maas told reporters on September 22. "What's important are concrete deeds and not just words."

The Taliban is seen now as the de facto ruler of Afghanistan by the international community, but many countries do not yet recognize it as a legitimate government.

The UN Secretariat has forwarded the letter to the credentials committee for consideration.

In addition to requesting participation in the annual UN gathering, the letter said the Taliban was nominating a new UN permanent representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, Dujarric said. Shaheen has been a spokesman for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar.

Senior U.S. State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban's request -- the United States is a member of the UN credentials committee -- but they would not predict how that panel might rule.

The Taliban's letter to Guterres said former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was "ousted" as of August 15 and that countries across the world ""no longer recognize him as president." The currently accredited Afghan ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, therefore, no longer represents Afghanistan, it said.

Guterres received a separate communication on September 15 from Isaczai with the list of Afghanistan's delegation for the assembly's 76th session, the UN spokesman said.

Afghanistan is scheduled to give the last speech on the final day of the UN General Assembly meeting on September 27. It wasn't clear who would speak if the UN credentials committee were to give the Taliban Afghanistan's seat.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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