WASHINGTON: According to the State Department, the US and the Taliban will hold their first in-person talks since the US pullout from Afghanistan on Saturday (October 9).
According to a State Department official, the US team will meet with senior Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday and Sunday.
Since the Taliban captured Kabul in August when US soldiers withdrew, the US has maintained contact with the Taliban, but this will be the first face-to-face encounter.
“We will press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to build a broad-based, inclusive government,” the spokeswoman said on Friday.
“As Afghanistan faces a severe economic downturn and possibly a humanitarian disaster,” he continued, “we will also press the Taliban to allow humanitarian agencies free access to areas in need.”
The encounter, according to the State Department, did not imply that the US recognised Taliban control in Afghanistan.
“We remain adamant that any legitimacy must be earned by the Taliban via their own conduct,” added the spokeswoman.
The US team will also push for President Joe Biden’s top aim of allowing US citizens and Afghan allies to leave the country throughout the 20-year military operation.
The United States says that the Taliban have largely cooperated on letting out US citizens. Around 100 remain, predominantly US citizens with roots in Afghanistan who are undecided on whether to leave, according to US officials.
But the United States acknowledges that it was not able to get out most Afghan allies who wanted to leave during a hasty airlift that pulled tens of thousands of people out of Kabul before the withdrawal.
The spokesperson did not specify who would represent the two sides. Senior US officials including Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie met with the Taliban in Kabul in August as US troops took over the airport for the airlift.