CIA director held secret talks with Taliban in Kabul


The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Afghanistan.

Mr Burns, a longtime former diplomat, met on Monday with Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban leader who has led diplomatic negotiations in Qatar with the US government.

The main issue for the United States is to get the Taliban leadership to allow more time for evacuations from the Kabul airport. The United States is operating a large airlift of people, including Afghans, Americans, and others, from Afghanistan. President Biden has set a deadline for this process until August 31.

The United States has sent thousands of soldiers to secure the airport, and the pace of evacuations has accelerated in recent days. But getting Afghans from their homes to Kabul airport safely has become more difficult and dangerous, and it is not clear whether the US government can maintain the pace of evacuations.

Former officials said the United States will need more time, possibly until late September, to transfer Afghans who have applied for special visas from the United States.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman in Qatar, said on Monday that any extension beyond August 31 would be a “clear violation” of the US agreement with the movement on troop withdrawal.

Prior to his appointment as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Burns had a long diplomatic career in which he specialized in close, secret communications. He called his memoir “The Back Channel” and was responsible for the undisclosed initial discussions that eventually led to the Iran nuclear talks in the Obama administration.

With the fall of the US-backed government and the withdrawal of diplomats and troops from Afghanistan, the CIA will bear much of the responsibility for monitoring Afghanistan in the future.

The CIA and the National Security Council declined to comment. Washington Post I mentioned earlier Visit Mr. Burns.

For now, the Taliban have allowed operations to continue at the airport. Although some civilians were harassed and beaten while trying to approach the airport, the Taliban did not openly interfere with US operations.

But US officials are concerned about the possibility of attacks by the Islamic State and other groups at the airport.

US operations not only need passive support from the Taliban to allow flights. They also need to effectively stop ISIS and others from carrying out attacks on Afghan civilians, including any suicide bombings outside the airport.

Despite hard-line rhetoric, the Taliban have an incentive to cooperate. The proxy government wants to secure international legitimacy and try to avoid the isolation that the group experienced in the 1990s, when it was last in power. Taliban leaders have urged international governments to keep their embassies in Afghanistan.

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