CIA director William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar
CIA Director William Burns secretly met with Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's de-facto leader, in Kabul on Monday, the Washington Post first reported.
Why it matters: Though the contents of the meeting are not known, Burns is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to meet with Taliban leadership as the U.S. races to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the country before the official withdrawal date of Aug. 31.
- Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday didn't confirm or deny reports that Baradar met with Burns.
Between the lines: The U.S. is coordinating regularly with the Taliban to ensure Americans and eligible Afghans can be evacuated, but Monday's meeting is the first sign of engagement at such a high level.
The big picture: President Biden suggested Sunday that troops could remain in the country beyond the Aug. 31 withdrawal date to help evacuation efforts, though he continues to insist the plan is to complete the operation by that date.
- Some U.S. allies plan to push Biden to extend the Kabul airlift operation in order to ensure that all Afghans who worked with NATO troops are evacuated from the country.
- A Taliban official in response said there would be "consequences" if U.S. troops remained in the country beyond the date.