Taliban Ask To Address UN General Assembly, Name Suhail Shaheen As Afghan Envoy

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The Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has asked to address world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this week, AFP reported on Tuesday, 22 September.

According to Reuters, the group has also nominated Suhail Shaheen, who is their Doha-based spokesman, as Afghanistan's UN ambassador.

In his letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, Muttaqi requested to speak at the General Assembly meeting. Farhan Haq, who is Guterres' spokesperson, confirmed Muttaqi's letter, reported Reuters.

Ghulam Isaczai, the ambassador of the previous Afghan government, which the Taliban ousted in August, has also requested to speak at the meeting. However, the UN is still undecided about who will represent the country at the world body, reported AFP.

Also Read: SAARC Ministers' Meet Called Off After Pakistan Insists on Taliban Presence

Now, a nine-member credentials committee, whose members include the United States, China and Russia, will decide upon the requests, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told AFP. Other committee members are the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden.

However, there are doubts about the Taliban foreign minister addressing the world body as the committee is unlikely to meet on the issue before Monday, added Reuters.

Dujarric said the letter, dated 20 September, listed Muttaqi as "Minister of Foreign Affairs" and said that Isaczai "no longer represents" Afghanistan at the UN. However, Muttaqi did not specify if he wanted to travel to New York to speak in person or submit a recorded video message.

Meanwhile, according to the General Assembly rules, Isaczai, who is scheduled to address the final day of the meeting on 27 September, will remain in the seat until the committee comes to a decision.

Guterres said that other countries could use the Taliban's desire for international recognition as leverage and pressure them for "inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan."

International recognition for the Taliban would mean unlocking of funds that the Afghanistan economy desperately needs.

Also Read: Taliban Name Remaining Cabinet Ministers; 'To Soon Allow Girls Back in Schools'

The letter, which had the letterhead "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs", also said that former president Ashraf Ghani had been ousted on 15 August, the day he had fled the country, AFP reported.

"Countries across the world no longer recognize him as president," the letter said.

Dujarric also said Guterres had received a separate letter from Isaczai, dated 15 September, where he named the Afghanistan's delegation for the session. The letter listed him as Afghanistan's permanent representative, AFP reported.

So far, no government has recognized the Taliban government.

(With inputs from AFP and Reuters)

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