Taliban delegation arrives to meet with US delegation in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday. Reuters
The United States said on Sunday the first face-to-face meeting between senior US and Taliban officials, since the hardline group retook power in Afghanistan, was "candid and professional" and that the US side reiterated that the Taliban would be judged on their actions, not just their words.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US delegation in the weekend talks in Doha, Qatar, focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and Afghans, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society.
He said the two sides also discussed "the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people."
"The discussions were candid and professional with the US delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words," Price said in a statement.
US Marines board a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, Afghanistan. File/AFP
Meanwhile, the United States and Britain warned their citizens on Monday to avoid hotels in Afghanistan, days after dozens were killed at a mosque in an attack claimed by the Daesh group.
The Taliban, which seized power in August and declared an Islamic emirate, are seeking international recognition and assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster and ease Afghanistan's economic crisis.
In August, during a chaotic evacuation of foreign nationals and at-risk Afghans, NATO countries issued a chorus of warnings about an imminent threat, telling people to stay away from Kabul airport.
Hours later, a suicide bomber detonated in a crowd gathered around one of the airport gates, killing scores of civilians and 13 American troops.
Afghans crowd the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16 to flee the country. File/AFP
The attack was claimed by Daesh, which has since targeted several Taliban guards, and claimed a devastating bomb attack in Kunduz city on Friday that ripped through a mosque during Friday prayers — the bloodiest assault since US forces left the country in August.
Biden administration officials told the media on Friday the US delegation would press the Taliban to release kidnapped American Mark Frerichs. Another top priority would be to hold the Taliban to their commitment not to allow Afghanistan to again become a hotbed for al Qaeda or other extremists.
The Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August, almost 20 years after they were ousted in a US-led invasion for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The US officials said the weekend meeting was a continuation of "pragmatic engagements" with the Taliban and "not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy" to the group.
US and Taliban officials will on Tuesday resume talks in Qatar aimed at ending Afghanistan’s 18-year war, hours after a delegation of Afghan citizens and the militants ended a meeting with both sides
A fresh round of talks between the US and the Taliban is to begin in Qatar, just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is hoping for an Afghan peace agreement before Sept.1.
The move, days after US President Donald Trump cancelled a planned meeting with Taliban leaders at his Camp David retreat, came as the movement looks to bolster regional support, with visits also planned for China, Iran and Central Asian states.
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