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Malaysia special envoy’s meeting with Taliban approved by Cabinet: Foreign minister

Malaysia special envoy’s meeting with Taliban approved by Cabinet: Foreign minister
Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: The working visit of Malaysia’s special envoy to the Middle East Abdul Hadi Awang to meet Taliban delegates in Qatar last month was approved by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

He added that although the government had started informal engagement with stakeholders in Afghanistan, it did not mean that Malaysia recognises the Taliban-led interim government.

The engagements were important to ensure that Afghanistan did not experience socio-economic and humanitarian collapse, said Mr Saifuddin in a parliamentary written reply to a question by opposition lawmaker Oscar Ling Chai Yew on Tuesday (Mar 1).

In his question, the Pakatan Harapan member of parliament had asked the foreign minister to state why the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East met with the Taliban and whether the meeting was approved by the Cabinet.

Mr Saifuddin said that Mr Abdul Hadi’s working visit to meet Taliban delegates was aimed at further strengthening Malaysia’s role in finding the best solution to the issue in Afghanistan.

He said Mr Abdul Hadi’s working visit from Jan 31 to Feb 4 was agreed by the prime minister on Jan 28.

Mr Abdul Hadi is president of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a component party in Mr Ismail Sabri’s administration.  

"As the Prime Minister's special envoy to the Middle East, apart from ensuring that Malaysia's strategic interests with countries in the Middle East continue to be preserved, he also plays a role in further strengthening ties with several other countries including Afghanistan," said Mr Saifuddin.

He said Malaysia had started informal engagement with stakeholders in Afghanistan. A number of other countries have also done the same, he added.

"The engagement does not mean that Malaysia recognises the interim Afghanistan government under the leadership of the Taliban.

"The engagement efforts are important to ensure that Afghanistan does not experience socio-economic and humanitarian collapse," said Mr Saifuddin. 

According to Mr Saifuddin, he had attended the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers’ extraordinary meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan on Dec 19 last year to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. 

He said during the meeting, he highlighted Malaysia’s position on the issue of nation building and humanitarian aid for Afghanistan which, he said, must be led, owned and controlled by Afghanistan.

He also called on the international community to avoid the total collapse of the Afghan economy. 

"In this regard the OIC should act to address and resolve the issue of the freezing of US$9 billion of Afghanistan’s international reserves. The reserves belong to the Afghan people," said Mr Saifuddin.

On Feb 8, an aide to Mr Abdul Hadi issued a statement that Mr Abdul Hadi’s meeting with the Taliban delegates in Doha, Qatar on Feb 4, did not symbolise Putrajaya recognising the Taliban government.

In a Facebook post, the aide Syahir Sulaiman said that the meeting was a dialogue session arranged by the Qatari foreign affairs ministry as requested by Mr Abdul Hadi. 

 

 

On Feb 21, the Malaysian foreign ministry clarified that the country is not opening any government office in Afghanistan.  

This came after photos of a meeting between Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Mr Ahmad Azam Ab Rahman, a special advisor on Afghanistan to Mr Saifuddin, were posted on Twitter the day before. 

“Mr Dato HJ Ahmad Azam Ab Rahman said a flight carrying Malaysian people’s assistant (sic) will arrive in Kabul on February 23, 2022, and that they would open an office in Kabul for the cohesion of aid & economic cooperation,” Afghanistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson had tweeted. 

A spokesperson from the Malaysian foreign ministry stated at that time: “The new office mentioned in the tweet was actually referring to the opening of a new office by Global Peace Mission (GPM), not Malaysia's government office.”

Source: CNA/ih(aw)

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