Canadian officials meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar
OTTAWA -- As the economic situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan, diplomats from Canada and other western countries met with Taliban officials in Qatar Thursday to discuss humanitarian aid for the war-torn country.
The Canadian government is prepared to give aid to the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to help the people of Afghanistan, but in an interview airing Sunday morning on CTV’s Question Period, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the government will not give aid or money directly to the Taliban.
“I can't imagine that we would send aid to the Afghan people via the Taliban, … if there are ways multilaterally with other partners that we can support the Afghan people,” said LeBlanc.
According to a senior government source, allowing Afghans who worked for the Canadian military to leave the country was also discussed at the meeting.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted photos from the meeting, showing Western diplomats from many countries, including the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada, in attendance.
“The participants reiterated their commitments to continue humanitarian aids to Afghanistan. I told them (the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) is a reality and we are ready to engage with the International Community and resolve issues through talks and understanding based on mutual interests and positive interaction,” tweeted Shaheen.
CTV News has identified one of the Canadian representatives at the meeting as David William Sproule, Ottawa's special envoy to Afghanistan, who previously served as Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan from Oct. 6, 2005, until April 17, 2007.
This is not the first meeting Sproule has had with the Taliban since they took control of Afghanistan. According to the Globe and Mail, Sproule spoke with top-raking Taliban officials on Aug. 30 about issues related to the Kabul Airport.
LeBlanc says he think it’s “responsible” for Canada to be participating in conversations with allies and the Taliban about humanitarian aid but that those conversations do not help legitimize the Taliban.
“It in no way the signals that our government has any intention of recognizing the Taliban as a legitimate government in Afghanistan, they remain under Canadian law, a listed terrorist organization, and that will certainly remain,” said LeBlanc.
With files from CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier and CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull