The Taliban has challenged the credentials of Afghanistan’s former UN ambassador and is asking to speak at the UN General Assembly, a UN spokesman said.
UN officials will now have to decide which representative to recognize, a month after the Taliban came to power as the United States prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan in late August.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received a message on September 15 from the accredited Afghan ambassador, Ghulam Isaczai, listing the Afghan delegation for the assembly’s 76th annual session.
Five days later, Guterres received another message with the letterhead Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed by Amir Khan Muttaqi as Foreign Minister, requesting to attend the UN gathering of world leaders.
Muttaqi said in the letter that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was “deposed” on August 15 and that countries around the world no longer recognize him as president, and therefore Isaczai no longer represented Afghanistan, Dujarric said.
The Taliban said they were nominating a new permanent UN representative, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, Dujarric said.
In cases of disputes over seats in the UN, the nine-member identification committee of the General Assembly must meet to make a decision. Both letters have been sent to the committee, Dujarric said.
Afghanistan is scheduled to deliver the final speech on the last day of the high-level meeting on September 27, but it is unclear whether the committee will meet before the end of the call on Monday.
The Committee consists of Russia, China, the United States, Sweden, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Chile, Bhutan and the Bahamas.
Senior U.S. State Department officials said they were aware of the Taliban’s request, but would not predict how the committee might decide. However, one of the officials said the committee “would take some time to consider”, suggesting that the Taliban envoy would not be able to speak at the General Assembly at this session, at least during the high-level leadership week.
The committee has previously refrained from making a decision and instead referred it to the general assembly for a vote, a diplomatic source told AFP.
No government has yet recognized the Taliban government, which first demanded that it fulfill its human rights obligations, but the ruling emir of Qatar, whose nation has played a key role in Afghanistan, called on world leaders to turn their backs on the Taliban.
Speaking at the General Assembly on Tuesday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani stressed “the need to continue the dialogue with the Taliban, because boycotts only lead to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue can yield positive results.”
In the spirit of diplomacy, Tamim said that years ago Qatar agreed to host the Taliban’s political leadership in exile because “we were convinced that war offered no solution and that there would be dialogue in the end”.
Countries such as the United States and Japan have relocated their diplomatic staff in Afghanistan to Qatar to continue diplomacy from there.
Uzbekistan, another country adjacent to Afghanistan, has resumed supplying oil and electricity to the war-torn country, according to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
“It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the reach of its problems,” he said in remarks at the UN on Tuesday, where he also called for a permanent UN committee on Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Pakistan’s foreign minister told reporters at UN headquarters that Taliban rulers should understand that if they want recognition and assistance in rebuilding the war-torn country, “they must be more sensitive and receptive to international opinion and norms.” .
The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.