Malaysian Envoy’s Meeting With Taliban Approved by Cabinet, Says Foreign Minister

The working visit of Malaysia’s special envoy to the Middle East to meet Taliban delegates in Qatar last month was approved by the prime minister, the country’s foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah noted that the engagements did not mean Malaysia was recognizing the Taliban government. Instead, they were to ensure that Afghanistan avoids a humanitarian collapse, Saifuddin said in a written reply to opposition lawmaker Oscar Ling.

“As the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East, Hadi’s role, apart from ensuring that Malaysia’s strategic interests in the region continue to be preserved, is also to strengthen our relations with other countries, including Afghanistan,” Saifuddin said, referring to the envoy Abdul Hadi Awang.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob consented to Hadi’s working visit from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, according to Saifuddin.

The foreign minister added that Malaysia was following the steps of other countries in starting informal engagement with stakeholders in Afghanistan.

“We want to encourage our private sector to explore investment and trade opportunities in Afghanistan in infrastructure, mining, agriculture, telecommunications and Islamic banking,” wrote Saifuddin.

The explanation came weeks after Hadi received backlash for supposedly exceeding his authority in deciding to meet the Taliban.

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