On Monday, CIA Director William Burns held a secret meeting in Kabul with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, as the withdrawal deadline for US forces in Afghanistan looms closer.
According to US officials familiar with the matter who spoke with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, the meeting marks the highest-level face-to-face encounter between the Biden administration and the Taliban since they seized control of the capital city on August 13.
While the CIA declined to comment on the Taliban meeting, the discussions were likely to have centered around the August 31 deadline for US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The meeting comes as the Biden administration faces a push from G-7 leaders to get that end of the month deadline extended.
According to the BBC, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have all expressed support in extending the deadline.
“We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31,” France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the BBC. “Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations.”
While the UK Secretary of Defense has expressed support of British forces staying in Afghanistan longer if possible, he told Sky News that an extension is “unlikely.”
“I think it is unlikely,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said. “Not only because of what the Taliban has said but if you look at the public statements of President Biden I think it is unlikely.”
“As we get closer it’s correct to say the security risk goes up, it gets more and more dangerous,” said Wallace.
President Joe Biden has been given the deadline of Tuesday to decide whether to extend the deadline by US military advisers.
While Biden has said that there has been discussions on extending the deadline, Taliban leaders have warned that there “would be consequences” if the US stays in Afghanistan past the withdrawal deadline.
“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that,” Taliban leader Dr Suhail Shaheen told Sky News.
Story cited here.