UN pledges continued engagement with Afghanistan

A senior UN official says the United Nations is committed to continuing its engagement with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in order to address restrictions on women and girls, along with other issues of international concern.

UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo spoke to reporters on Monday following a two-day conference on Afghanistan held in Doha, Qatar.

The Taliban sent delegates to the UN-led conference for the first time. Envoys from the United States, Europe, China and Japan also took part.

DiCarlo welcomed the start of detailed talks between the Taliban and the international community, and called the discussions frank and useful.

The Taliban has severely restricted women's rights since it returned to power in 2021. Girls in Afghanistan are barred from advancing to secondary school.

DiCarlo said, "Running through all the discussions was the deep international concern -- from special envoys and from me -- about the ongoing and serious restrictions on women and girls."

She added that the United Nations is committed to continuing its engagement with Afghanistan to resolve this and other problems.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, who attended the conference, expressed a positive stance on joining the next round of talks.

But he added that the Taliban will view each meeting separately, depending on its agenda and target.

The focus is on how the international community can encourage the Taliban to continue taking part in dialogue.