The United States and the Taliban are holding their first talks over the weekend, according to officials from both sides.
- This will be the first meeting between the United States and the Taliban since the end of their 20-year military conflict
- Withholding terrorism and human rights is expected to be the main topics of discussion this weekend
- A US official said the talks did not mean the Biden administration recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan.
It is the first meeting since U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence there, and the Taliban’s takeover.
The talks are to take place in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.
Officials from both sides have said these talks will focus on extremist groups in Afghanistan and facilitate the evacuation of foreign nationals and Afghans from the country.
Doha-based Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press that the talks would also visit the peace deal the Taliban signed with Washington in 2020.
The deal had paved the way for the final US withdrawal.
“Yes, there is a meeting … on bilateral relations and the implementation of the Doha Agreement,” Shaheen said.
“It covers different topics.”
Terrorism will also be included in the negotiations, said another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Since the Taliban took power, Islamic State extremists have intensified attacks on the militant group as well as ethnic and religious minorities.
On Friday, an IS-K suicide bomber killed at least 46 minority Shiite Muslims and wounded dozens in the deadliest attack since the departure of the United States.
IS has carried out relentless attacks on the country’s Shiite Muslims since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014.
The 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban, which the Trump administration had negotiated, demanded that the Taliban sever ties with terrorist groups and guarantee that Afghanistan would not once again accommodate terrorists who could attack the United States and its allies.
The Taliban have said they do not want US aid to terrorism and have warned Washington against so-called “over the horizon” attacks on Afghan territory.
The United States is expected to hold Taliban leaders to commit that they will allow Americans and other foreign nationals, including Australians, to leave Afghanistan along with Afghans who once worked for the former Afghan government and its allies, a U.S. official told the Associated Press. of anonymity.
The United States also intends to pressure the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls, many of whom the Taliban allegedly block from returning to jobs and classrooms and Afghans as a whole and to form an inclusive government, the official said.
US officials will also encourage Taliban officials to give humanitarian agencies free access to areas in need in the midst of the economic upheaval following the US departure and takeover of the Taliban.
The official stressed that the session did not involve the United States recognizing the Taliban as legitimate governors in the country.