G20 leaders to discuss Afghanistan in virtual summit

G20 leaders will hold a virtual summit on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan, with the Italy-hosted talks focused on the humanitarian and security situation following the takeover by the Taliban.

US President Joe Biden was among those dialling in to the meeting hosted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, while lower-level officials were expected to stand in for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

G7 leaders have already met to discuss the situation in Afghanistan following the return to power of the hardline Islamist Taliban in August, as US troops withdrew after 20 years of war.

But Draghi, whose country holds the rotating G20 presidency, has been pushing to widen the global discussion on Afghanistan to countries including Russia and China.

The G20 economic powers, which include the United States, EU, China, Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia among others, have been extended to representatives from the United Nations and Qatar, a key broker in Afghanistan which has also hosted talks between the US and the Taliban.

The summit will be held behind closed doors but Draghi will hold a press conference afterwards.

Afghanistan’s economy remains in a parlous state with international aid cut off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.

Announcing the meeting last month, the Italian premier said it would address what he said was the risk of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan.

Draghi, whose country was part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, said leaders would also look at measures the international community can take “to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a hotbed of international terrorism”.

The Taliban regime, still yet to be recognised as a legitimate government by any other country, is itself facing a threat from the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), who have launched a series of deadly attacks.

AFP

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