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Afghanistan turmoil

U.S. seeks Chinese and Russian help on human rights under Taliban

Discussions on counterterrorism in Afghanistan held on sidelines of U.N.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with counterparts from permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and from the Group of 20 on Sept. 22.   © AP

NEW YORK -- The U.S. is working to align China, Russia and the rest of the international community to promote human rights and counterterrorism in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, advancing its efforts on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign ministers from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. This was the first meeting between the U.S., Europe, China and Russia regarding Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in mid-August.

Neither China nor Russia attended a 22-country ministerial meeting on the matter in early September.

The mood at the meeting was "constructive," a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters later Wednesday. 

"There's quite a lot of convergence about what we need to see from the Taliban, particularly on the subject of respect for women and girls -- particularly on the subject of counterterrorism, counternarcotics," the official said. Opium trade has been a major source of income for the Taliban.

The Biden administration aims to work more closely with China and Russia in order to exert greater pressure on the Taliban.

At a separate online meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers that day, Blinken called on the Taliban to uphold human rights, particularly the freedom of movement for both foreign and Afghan nationals in Afghanistan. The U.S. is urging the Islamist group to comply with requests from the international community as a precondition for economic assistance and international recognition.

But China and Russia have been relatively more open to engaging with the Taliban, who are especially interested in deepening ties with Beijing to secure its help in building new infrastructure.

It is important to continue dialogue with the Taliban, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar, who is in contact with the group, told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

"Boycotting them will only lead to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue could be fruitful," he said.

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