US, Taliban officials meet for first time after Afghanistan takeover

Senior Taliban representatives and a delegation of US officials discussed the economic stability and drug trafficking in two-day talks in the Qatari capital of Doha two years after the Taliban swept back to power.

The two sides discussed confidence-building measures during the two-day talks, including the lifting of sanctions and travel bans as well as the return of Afghan central bank assets held abroad, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi added that issues including human rights and combating narcotics were also raised during the talks which began on Saturday.

The US State Department also said in a statement on Monday that the US side “voiced openness to continue dialogue on counternarcotics,” adding it was ready “for a technical dialogue regarding economic stabilization issues soon.”

It also sounded positive about a “significant decrease in cultivation” of poppies this growing season under a 2022 ban.

The opium poppy plant has long been used in Afghanistan for financing and income. According to the UN by 2020, Afghanistan was exporting 85% of the world’s opium. However, the Taliban has banned planting this crop ever since they took power.

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