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Japan envoy holds talks with Taliban officials in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters secure the area after a roadside bomb went off in Kabul Afghanistan, on Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/ Petros Giannakouris)

ISLAMABAD (Kyodo) -- Japan's ambassador to Afghanistan held talks with senior Taliban officials in the capital Kabul on Tuesday and Wednesday, a deputy spokesman of the Taliban's interim government said.

    It is the first time that talks between Ambassador Takashi Okada and Taliban officials in Kabul have come to light since the Taliban took control of the war-torn country in August ahead of the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of that month.

    While the Japanese government is reluctant to recognize the Taliban government, it is likely to have found it necessary to hold discussions with officials in Afghanistan with the view to providing humanitarian assistance.

    The spokesman said Okada met with Abdul Kabir, deputy prime minister in charge of political affairs, on Tuesday and with Abdul Ghani Baradar, also a deputy prime minister in the Taliban interim government, on Wednesday.

    In his talks with Kabir, the ambassador conveyed Japan's intention to reopen its embassy in Kabul if safety is ensured, according to the spokesman.

    "Ambassador Okada has been engaged in negotiations with the Taliban side in Kabul as needed," a Japanese government source said, declining to comment further on the matter.

    Kabir expressed appreciation for Japanese assistance, saying the interim government hopes to forge good relations with the world, including Japan. He also assured that Japanese aid will be delivered to those in need in a transparent manner, according to the Taliban.

    Japan temporarily closed its embassy in Kabul on Aug. 15, the day the Taliban entered the capital and took effective control of the country. It has also evacuated Japanese embassy staff from Afghanistan and moved its diplomatic operations to the Qatari capital Doha.

    Okada held talks with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in the Qatari capital Doha last month and asked that the safety of Afghans who worked at the embassy and organizations linked to Japan be ensured.

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