Friday, October 29, 2021

US officials meet Taliban for 1st face-to-face talks since Washington pulled troops from Afghanistan

US officials have met Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban for their first face-to-face talks since Washington pulled its troops from the country in August. The talks in Qatar are reported to be focusing on issues including containing extremist groups, the evacuation of US citizens and humanitarian aid, officials say.

The US insists the meeting does not amount to recognition of the Taliban. It comes a day after Afghanistan suffered its deadliest bomb attack since US forces withdrew. The suicide bombing at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 100 others. Speaking after the talks with the US opened in Qatar, Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the two sides had agreed to uphold the terms of the Doha agreement signed in 2020.

The deal includes broad obligations on the Taliban to take steps to prevent groups such as al-Qaeda from threatening the security of the US and its allies. However, US has not yet commented on the details of Saturday’s talks, but a state department spokesperson previously said officials would use the meeting to press the Taliban to respect women’s rights, form an inclusive government and allow humanitarian agencies to operate.

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