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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

US and Taliban hold first in-person talks
Taliban fighters working as a police force stand guard next to a Humvee vehicle at the entrance gate of a police district in Kabul. -- AFP
Taliban fighters working as a police force stand guard next to a Humvee vehicle at the entrance gate of a police district in Kabul. -- AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States representatives and the senior Taliban officials met in Doha on Saturday, their first face to face talks since US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August – ending a 20-year military presence – and the Taliban’s rise to power.


The meeting discussed “opening a new page” in their countries’ relationship, according to Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister.


Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister, said the focus of the Afghan delegation was humanitarian aid, as well the implementation of the agreement the Taliban signed with Washington last year which paved the way for the final US withdrawal.


The minister said the Afghan delegation had asked the US to lift its ban on the reserves of Afghanistan’s central bank. He added that the US would offer Afghan people vaccines against Covid-19.


The State Department on Friday evening stressed that the meeting did not indicate that the United States was recognizing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.


"We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban's own actions," the spokesperson said.


The US team will also press President Joe Biden's key priority of letting US citizens and Afghan allies during the 20-year military operation leave the country.


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. -- AFP


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