In the first known meeting since Kabul fell, a U.S. delegation led by CIA Deputy Director David Cohen sat down Saturday with the Taliban and will meet Sunday in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, CBS News has learned. According to a U.S. official, the White House decided to position the CIA in a lead role in part to signal that the engagement is focused on terrorism. On Friday, a terror attack by ISIS-K in Kunduz killed dozens.
In September, Cohen said the CIA had seen “indications of some potential movement of al Qaeda to Afghanistan,” adding that the agency would “obviously keep a very close eye on that.” Defense and intelligence officials have said al Qaeda could reconstitute and regain a capability to attack the United States in as few as six months. Another issue the parties are discussing is easing the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country, officials from both sides said.
A State Department official described the engagement as pragmatic in nature and focused on “issues of U.S. vital national interest.” In response to a CBS News inquiry, a state department spokesman emailed comment that the meeting “is not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy.” In August, CIA Director William Burns met secretly with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, the highest-level encounter between the group and a Biden administration official at that point. Baradar was at the time seen as the likely head of a Taliban government; he is now the group’s deputy prime minister. U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence there.
Source : CBS NEWS