Oct 8, 2021 - World

U.S. officials, Taliban to convene for first in-person senior meeting

Guard in front of former U.S. Embassy in Kabul

A member of the Taliban Fateh, a "special forces" unit, on Sept. 8 stands guard outside the former U.S. Embassy, which now displays a Taliban flag in the outer concrete wall. Photo: Aamir QURESHI//AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. delegation will meet with "senior Taliban representatives" in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday and Sunday, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: It will be the first in-person meeting at a senior level since the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan.

Details: The U.S. delegation will include officials from the government's intelligence community, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

  • Their priority will be to ensure the Taliban continue to allow U.S. citizens and allies to safely leave Afghanistan, the spokesperson said.
  • They will also push the leaders to honor their commitment not to let al-Qaeda or other extremists "use Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States or its allies."
  • And they will "press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support."

Worth noting: U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the terms of the deal the United States signed with the Taliban in 2020, is not part of the delegation, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Since the Taliban swept the country, the United Nations and human rights groups have expressed concern about a backslide into its authoritarian regime of previous decades.

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