US and Taliban officials will meet this weekend in Qatar for the first time since the last US military forces left Afghanistan in late August, reports said on Friday.
Saturday and Sunday’s talks in the Qatari capital of Doha will focus on the removal of all US citizens, green-card holders and Afghan allies who have applied for special visas or allowed them into the US, Reuters reported.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, who is based in Doha, told The Associated Press that the meetings would also include discussions on a 2020 deal between the Islamic fundamentalist and Washington that paved the way for an eventual US withdrawal.
“Yes there is a meeting. . . about bilateral relations and the implementation of the Doha Agreement,” Shaheen said. “It covers a variety of topics.”
The AP reported that US officials will try to hold the Taliban accountable for their promise to allow foreign nationals and Afghans who helped US-led forces leave Afghanistan.
The Biden administration has acknowledged that dozens of Americans and legal permanent residents were left behind after the withdrawal concluded on August 30. It is also believed that thousands of Afghan allies live in hostile territory, although the administration has not provided accurate counts.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that 105 US citizens and 95 green card holders have departed on flights facilitated by the US government since the end of August. That number hadn’t changed for more than a week.
Military veterans and other individuals have helped others leave the country on charter flights, and some have crossed land borders. Price acknowledged Thursday that the State Department was in contact with “dozens of Americans in Afghanistan who want to leave.”
US officials, in response to complaints from lawmakers on both sides, without any US officials on the ground in Afghanistan, cited the difficulty of verifying the flight, among other hold-ups, that the evacuation process was going too slow. Is.
The US delegation, which will reportedly include officials from the State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the intelligence community, will also pressure the Taliban to release Mark Freerich, an Illinois civil engineer who was kidnapped by the Taliban in February 2020. was done. Haqqani is connected to the network.
The US team further urges the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls – many of whom are being prevented from returning to jobs and classes – as well as giving humanitarian agencies free access to areas of Afghanistan in need of intervention. Is.
Officials stressed that the meeting did not indicate that Washington was leaning toward recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government.
“We are clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban’s own actions,” a US official told Reuters. “They need to set a consistent track record.”
post with wires