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Exclusive-Taliban names Afghan U.N. envoy, asks to speak to world leaders By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Taliban spokesperson?Suhail Shaheen departs after attending a press conference in Moscow (Russia) on July 9, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The Taliban have asked to address world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week and nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister, requested this in a Monday letter to U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Muttaqi requested to speak at the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, which ends on Monday.

Farhan Haq (Guterres spokesperson) confirmed Muttaqi’s letter. This move will set up an argument with GhulamIsaczai (the U.N. ambassador to New York) who represents Afghanistan’s government that was overthrown by the Taliban last month.

Haq claimed that rival applications for Afghanistan’s U.N. seats had been sent by Ghulam Isaczai to the nine-member Credentials Committee, which includes Russia, China, the United States and Russia. It is highly unlikely that the committee will meet before Monday to discuss the matter. Therefore, it is likely that the Taliban foreign ministry won’t address the international body.

An eventual U.N. recognition of the Taliban’s ambassador is a crucial step for hardline Islamist groups seeking international recognition. It could unlock desperately needed funding for Afghanistan’s cash-strapped economic system.

Guterres said the Taliban’s demand for international recognition was the sole leverage that other countries have in order to push for an inclusive government and the respect of rights for all Afghan citizens, especially women.

Haq stated that the Taliban had written to Isaczai stating his mission was “considered over” and that he does not represent Afghanistan.

According to General Assembly rules, Isaczai can continue in his seat until a decision by the credential committee is made. He will address the closing day of meeting on September 27, although it is not clear whether any other countries may object following the Taliban’s letter.

The U.N. Credentials Committee meets every year in November or October to review the credentials of U.N. member countries before making a report that can be approved by the General Assembly before the end the year. Diplomats say that both the General Assembly and the committee usually work by consensus regarding credentials.

Other members include the Bahamas and Bhutan, Chile (Namibia), Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone, and Sweden.

The U.N.’s representative in Afghanistan was the Ambassador of the Taliban government that ruled between 1996-2001. This happened after the Credentials Committee deferred its decision about rival claims to the seat.

According to the committee’s report, this decision was delayed because the United Nations currently has representatives from Afghanistan who will be able to continue participating in General Assembly work.

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