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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that he is ready to talk to the Taliban that has taken over Afghanistan amid fears of widepread human rights abuses.

"I'm ready to speak myself when it is clear with whom should I speak, for what purpose," he said on Thursday at a briefing for reporters.

While answering a question about contacts with the Taliban, he said, "I have not spoken myself, but our people in Afghanistan are in close contact with the Taliban and very strongly conveying that message" of respect for human rights and preventing the use of the territory by terrorists.

Guterres said that he was in touch with Qatar, which has facilitated talks between the Taliban, the previous Afghan government and other countries and is now working on getting an inclusive government installed in Kabul.

"I was in close contact yesterday, the day before yesterday, with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar (Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani)," Guterres said. "We are following the Qatar Initiative and supporting it. Let's hope that there will be a way for an inclusive government in Afghanistan."

He said that the only leverage the international community has with the Taliban is its quest for legitimacy and all nations should be united and "speak with one voice" to be able to use this bargaining power.

The conditions that the Taliban would have to meet for recognition are "full respect for human rights, and, in particular, the question of women's rights," allowing the evacuation of people in danger, and assuring that the territory is never be used again by any terrorist organisation, he said.

Asked if he would seek from the Council a broader mandate in Afghanistan, Guterres said that it has to be reviewed but that it would depend on how the situation develops there.

"If we are successful on this (of getting Taliban agreement on the terms), I think there is a perspective for a renewal of the (Security Council) mandate with one kind of characteristics. If things go wrong, of course, we will have to look into a mandate adapted to whatever will come," he said.

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