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Taleban closer to international recognition: FM

KABUL (AFP) – The Taleban are inching closer towards international recognition but any concessions Afghanistan’s new rulers make will be on their terms, the regime’s foreign minister said in an interview with AFP.

In his first interview since returning from talks with Western powers in Oslo, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi also urged Washington to unlock Afghanistan’s assets to help ease a humanitarian crisis.

No country has formally recognised the government installed after the Taleban seized power in August as United States (US) led forces withdrew following a 20-year occupation.

But Muttaqi told AFP late Wednesday that Afghanistan’s new rulers were slowly gaining international acceptance.

“On the process of getting recognition… we have come closer to that goal,” he said.

“That is our right, the right of the Afghans. We will continue our political struggle and efforts until we get our right.”

Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. PHOTO: AFP

The talks in Norway last month were the first involving the Taleban held on Western soil in decades.

While Norway insisted the meeting was not intended to give the group formal recognition, the Taleban have touted it as such.

Muttaqi said his government was actively engaged with the international community – a clear indication, he insisted, of growing acceptance.

“The international community wants to have interaction with us,” he said. “We have had good achievements in that.”

Muttaqi said several countries were operating embassies in Kabul, with more expected to open soon.

“We expect that the embassies of some of the European and Arab countries will open too,” he said.

But Muttaqi said any concessions the Taleban made in areas such as human rights would be on their terms and not as a result of international pressure.

“What we are doing in our country is not because we have to meet conditions, nor are we doing it under someone’s pressure,” he said.

“We are doing it as per our plan and policy.”

The Taleban have promised a softer version of the harsh Islamic rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 until 2001.