US and Taliban to hold first talks since withdrawal from Afghanistan | Taliban News

The talks, to be held in Doha, will review the peace accord the Taliban signed with the United States last year.

Senior Taliban officials and US representatives are ready for talks in Qatar on containing hard-line groups in Afghanistan and the evacuation of foreigners and Afghans from the country.

The meeting on Saturday and Sunday will be the first since US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August, ending a 20-year military presence and the rise to power of the Taliban.

A spokesman for the US State Department said late Friday that the talks are not about recognizing or legitimizing the Taliban as leaders of Afghanistan, but rather are a continuation of pragmatic talks on issues of national interest to the United States.

He said the priority was the continued and safe departure of Afghans, American citizens and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan, adding that another goal was to urge the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and form an inclusive government with broad support.

The State Department did not disclose who would travel to the Qatari capital Doha from the US side.

Doha-based Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press on Saturday that the talks will also review the peace accord the Taliban signed with Washington last year, which paved the way for final withdrawal. from the United States.

“Yes, there is a meeting … on bilateral relations and the implementation of the Doha agreement,” Shaheen said. “Covers various topics.”

Since the Taliban took power, the Islamic State in Khorasan province, ISKP (ISIS-K), has stepped up attacks against the group, as well as against ethnic and religious minorities.

On Friday, an ISKP suicide bomber died at least 46 minority Shiite Muslims and dozens of injured in the deadliest attack since leaving the United States.

Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Doha, said expectations of a breakthrough in the talks should “moderate” because there is still a “gulf” between what the United States wants and what the transitional government wants in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban are describing their delegation as high-level and it is led by their acting foreign minister,” he said. “On the US side, there will be diplomats from the state department, members of USAID and the intelligence department.”

Notably absent, Ghoneim added, is Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been America’s key person in talks with the Taliban for years.

Terrorist threat

The 2020 US-Taliban agreement, which was negotiated by the Trump administration, required the Taliban to sever ties with “terrorist” groups and ensure that Afghanistan would no longer harbor terrorists who might attack the United States and its allies. .

The Taliban have said they do not want US counterterrorism assistance and warned Washington against so-called “over-the-horizon” attacks on Afghan soil from outside the country’s borders.

The Biden administration has responded to questions and complaints about the slow pace of US-facilitated evacuations from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan since the US withdrawal.

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