Qatar's foreign minister visits Kabul to meet Taliban leaders

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al-Thani holds talks with Afghanistan's acting Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund.

Qatar's foreign minister visits Kabul to meet Taliban leaders

Qatar's foreign minister arrived in Kabul on Sunday, becoming the first high-ranking government official to meet the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan.

In a tweet, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Mullah Hassan Akhund, the acting prime minister, and a number of other senior acting ministers met Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al-Thani at the presidential palace.

"The meeting focused on bilateral relations, humanitarian assistance, economic development and interaction with the world," he said.

Shaheen said the Taliban leadership "thanked the government of Qatar for supporting the Afghan people in their critical time."

The development was also confirmed by Qatar's Foreign Ministry, which said the meeting "discussed ways of promoting peace in Afghanistan and the latest developments regarding the operation of Kabul Airport and ensuring freedom of passage and travel for all."

"The two sides stressed the importance of concerted efforts to combat terrorist organizations that threaten the stability of Afghanistan," the readout said.

The foreign minister "urged the Afghan officials to engage all Afghan parties in the national reconciliation."

Sheikh Mohammed also met Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the previous Afghan government, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, according to the ministry statement.

Qatar, said to have influence over the Taliban, hosted the group’s political office, which oversaw the negotiations with the US that eventually led to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban took over the war-torn country mid-August, and have announced a 33-member interim Cabinet.