Taliban, US spoke candidly in first meeting after troop withdrawal

Washington/Kabul, Oct 10 (EFE).- The talks between senior Taliban officials and representatives from the United States over the weekend in Doha were candid, officials from both sides said.

The two sides held their first known face-to-face meeting after US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August that paved the way for the Taliban to seize power in Kabul.

The State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Sunday that the talks focused on curbing terrorism and ensuring safe passage for US citizens from Afghanistan.

In a statement released on Monday, the Taliban said its members emphasized the resumption of international humanitarian aid for the war-torn country.

“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.

Price said an inter-agency delegation from the US traveled to Doha to meet with senior Taliban representatives for the talks on Saturday and Sunday in the Qatari capital.

“The US delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society,” said Price.

The spokesperson noted that both sides discussed the US “provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.”

Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi said the talks “went well.”

He said the Taliban representatives stressed that the full implementation of Feb.29, 2020, Doha agreement was the best way to resolve problems.

The Taliban officials told the US delegation that “humanitarian assistance should not be linked with political issues,” Balkhi said.

“US representatives pledged that they will provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans and facilities for other humanitarian organizations to deliver aid.”

The Taliban welcomed the promise and vowed to cooperate with aid groups, he said.

The Islamist militia, which has formed an interim government in Afghanistan, has moved to establish contacts with the international community to ensure the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Global organizations have indicated that Afghanistan was at the brink of collapse and may sink into an economic and social crisis after four decades of war.

A State Department spokesperson had told EFE on Friday that the focus of the meeting between the Taliban and the US was to ensure safe passage of few Americans and other foreigners who remain in Afghanistan and the Afghans who previously worked with American organizations.

The US has maintained contact with the Taliban since the troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

The official said the first face-to-face meeting was not to recognize or give the Taliban government any legitimacy.

Acting Foreign Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, who led the Afghan side, said in a statement released Saturday that “high-level” delegations from both sides “held detailed talks.”

He said they also spoke of “humanitarian assistance” and insisted that “the Doha agreement must be fully implemented.”

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