US says to hold first in-person talks with Taliban since Afghan withdrawal


WASHINGTON: The USA and the Taliban will hold their first in-person talks since the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan as of Saturday, the Department of State said.
The US delegation will meet on Saturday and Sunday in the Qatari capital Doha with senior Taliban representatives, a State Department spokesman said.
The United States has remained in contact with the Taliban since longtime enemies seized Kabul in August when US troops withdrew, but the meeting will be the first to be held face-to-face.
“We will pressure the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and form an inclusive government with broad support,” the spokesman said on Friday.
“As Afghanistan faces the prospect of a severe economic downturn and a possible humanitarian crisis, we will also pressure the Taliban to allow humanitarian agencies free access to areas in need,” he said.
The state department emphasized that the meeting did not indicate that the United States was recognizing the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“We are clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” the spokesman said.
Team USA will also lobby the president Joe bidenThe key priority of allowing American citizens and Afghan allies during the 20 years of military operation to leave the country.
The United States says the Taliban have been highly cooperative in letting US citizens out. About 100 remain, predominantly US citizens with roots in Afghanistan who are undecided on whether to leave, according to US officials.
But the United States acknowledges that it was unable to remove most of the Afghan allies who wanted to leave during a hasty airlift that removed tens of thousands of people from Kabul before the pullout.
The spokesperson did not specify who would represent the two parties. Senior US officials, including Central Command chief general Frank McKenzie met with the Taliban in Kabul in August when US troops took over the airport for the airlift.

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