United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for dialogue with the Taliban to avoid “millions of deaths” due to an “economic collapse”.
In an interview with AFP, Guterres urged the international community to maintain a dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan,
“We must maintain a dialogue with the Taliban, where we affirm our principles directly — a dialogue with a feeling of solidarity with the Afghan people,” he said.
“Our duty is to extend our solidarity to a people who suffer greatly, where millions and millions risk dying of hunger,” he added.
This statement from Guterres comes after a UN envoy on Thursday urged the world to keep pumping money into Afghanistan despite concerns over the Taliban government, warning the already poor country could otherwise suffer a historic breakdown.
Deborah Lyons, the secretary-general’s special representative on Afghanistan, called on the world at least to give a chance to the victorious Taliban as the Islamist insurgents turn to governance and confront a severe economic decline.
She further said that a severe economic downturn may generate a massive wave of refugees from Afghanistan and indeed set Afghanistan back for generations.
The UN chief said there were “no guarantees” about what might come out of talks but added that discussions are a must “if we want Afghanistan not to be a centre of terrorism if we want women and girls to not lose all the rights acquired during the previous period if we want different ethnic groups to be able to feel represented.”
Saying that the UN wishes for an inclusive government where all components of Afghan society are represented, Guterres expressed disappointment over the first preliminary government.
“Terrorism must have no base in Afghanistan to launch operations in other countries and the Taliban must cooperate in the struggle against drugs,” Guterres added.