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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.

Go deeper

Jan 11, 2022 - World

Aid group reports major increase in Afghanistan child malnourishment

Health workers check children for signs of malnourishment at a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Herat. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty

Health care workers in the Afghan cities of Khost and Herat recorded major increases of severe acute malnutrition among children — 30-fold and 2-fold respectively — between November and December of 2021, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

State of play: Most foreign aid to Afghanistan has stopped flowing since the Taliban took power in August, sanctions are further hampering the economy, and the U.S. has frozen around $8 billion in Afghan Central Bank assets. That's led to a major cash shortage that comes with winter setting in and food prices rising, the IRC reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.