Canadian officials meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar

OTTAWA – As the economic situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan, diplomats from Canada and other Western countries met with Taliban officials in Qatar on Thursday to discuss humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

The Canadian government is ready to provide assistance to the UN and NGOs to help the people of Afghanistan, but in an interview aired Sunday morning on CTV’s question time, Intergovernmental Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the government will not provide assistance or money directly to the Taliban.

“I can not imagine that we would send aid to the Afghan people via the Taliban, … if there are multilateral ways with other partners in which we can support the Afghan people,” LeBlanc said.

According to a senior government source, it was also discussed at the meeting to allow Afghans who worked for the Canadian military to leave the country.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted photos from the meeting attended by Western diplomats from many countries, including the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada.

“The participants reiterated their commitment to continue humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. I told them (the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) is a reality and we are ready to engage with the international community and resolve issues through dialogue and understanding based on mutual interests and positive interaction. ” tweeted Shaheen.

CTV News has identified one of the Canadian representatives at the meeting as David William Sproule, Ottawa’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan, who previously served as Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan from October 6, 2005 to April 17, 2007.

This is not the first meeting Sproule has had with the Taliban since taking control of Afghanistan. According to the Globe and Mail, Sproule spoke with senior Taliban officials on August 30 about issues related to Kabul Airport.

LeBlanc says he thinks it is “responsible” for Canada to engage in talks with allies and the Taliban on humanitarian aid, but that those talks do not help legitimize the Taliban.

“These are by no means the signals that our government has any intention of recognizing the Taliban as a legitimate government in Afghanistan, they remain under Canadian law, a listed terrorist organization, and it will certainly remain so,” LeBlanc said.

Featuring files from CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier and CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull


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