CIA director held secret talks with Taliban in Kabul

CIA Director William J. Burns traveled to Kabul this week for talks with Taliban leaders, according to US officials familiar with his vi...


CIA Director William J. Burns traveled to Kabul this week for talks with Taliban leaders, according to US officials familiar with his visit – the face-to-face talks at the highest level between an official with the Biden administration and the new de facto leadership of Afghanistan.

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

A key issue for the United States is getting the Taliban leadership to give more time to the Kabul airport evacuation operations. The United States is carrying out a major airlift of people, including Afghans, Americans and others, out of Afghanistan. President Biden has set a deadline for this operation to end on August 31.

The United States has sent thousands of troops to secure the airport, and the pace of evacuations has accelerated in recent days. But getting Afghans from their homes to Kabul airport safely is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous, and it is not clear whether the US government can keep up with the pace of evacuations.

Former officials have said the United States will need more time, possibly until the end of September, to transport Afghans who have applied for special visas to the United States.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, said on Monday that any extension beyond August 31 would constitute a “clear violation” of the United States’ agreement with the group on the troop withdrawal.

Prior to being appointed Director of the CIA, Mr. Burns had a long diplomatic career during which he specialized in sensitive and secret communications. He titled his memoir “The Back Channel” and was responsible for the initial, undisclosed discussions that ultimately led to Iranian nuclear talks within the Obama administration.

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

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

For now, the Taliban have allowed operations to continue at the airport. Although some civilians were harassed and beaten as they tried to approach the airport, the Taliban did not openly obstruct US operations.

But U.S. officials are worried about the prospect of airport attacks by ISIS and other groups.

US operations don’t just need the passive support of the Taliban to enable the flights. They also need the group to actively prevent ISIS and others from mounting attacks on Afghan civilians, including any suicide bombing outside the airport.

Despite harsh rhetoric, the Taliban are urged to cooperate. The government of the day wants to ensure international legitimacy and try to avoid the isolation the group experienced in the 1990s, when it was last in power. Taliban leaders have urged international governments to maintain their embassies in Afghanistan.

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Newsrust - US Top News: CIA director held secret talks with Taliban in Kabul
CIA director held secret talks with Taliban in Kabul
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