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The United States meets the Taliban – but not in Kabul

For the first time since seizing power in Afghanistan, high-ranking representatives of the Taliban and the United States are coming together. They meet for official talks in an intermediary country.

The U.S. delegation wants to meet with top representatives of the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan in Doha, the capital of Qatar, this weekend. A U.S. State Department spokesman said Friday evening (local time) that the talks were not about recognizing or legalizing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Rather, it is a continuation of “practical” talks about questions of American national interest. The most important priority is the continued safe departure of US citizens, other foreigners and Afghanistan.

It said it was “compliant with the Taliban’s commitment not to allow terrorists to use Afghan soil to endanger the security of the United States or its allies.” They want the Taliban to insist on respecting the rights of all Afghans, including the rights of women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support.

The foreign ministry did not say who would go to Doha specifically for the talks. Following the withdrawal of troops from the army in Kabul, Western nations such as Germany and the United States sought to allow their countrymen and their former Afghan local staff to leave the country as the last American troops were withdrawn. The last U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August. This marked the end of international military action in the country almost 20 years later.