US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that the country had signed an accord with Qatar to set up an interests section in Afghanistan
Qatar will act as the United States' diplomatic representative in Afghanistan following the shuttering of its embassy during the Taliban takeover.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that the country had signed an accord with Qatar to set up an interests section in Afghanistan.
The accord acts as an important signal of possible future direct engagement between Washington and the Taliban after two decades of war.
Blinken said ''Qatar will establish a US interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of US diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan.''
"Let me again say how grateful we are for your leadership, your support on Afghanistan, but also to note that our partnership is much broader than that," Blinken told Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
The new agreement will into effect on December 31. It comes as the United States and other Western countries grapple with how to engage with the hardline Islamists.
Qatar, home to a major US military base, has played a major role both in the diplomacy and the evacuations as the United States ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Around half of the 124,000 Westerners and Western-allied Afghans flown out in the waning days of the US military involvement transited through Qatar.
Since the Taliban takeover, US embassy operations in Kabul have been relocated to Qatar.
The United States, European countries and others are reluctant to formally recognise the Pashtun-dominated Taliban, accusing them of backtracking on pledges of political and ethnic inclusivity and to uphold the rights of women and minorities.
(With inputs from agencies)