Correspondent in New York
A US delegation and representatives of the Taliban, who have controlled Afghanistan since mid-August, meets this weekend in Doha (Qatar), in the first high-level meeting between the two since the chaotic and tragic withdrawal of US troops.
Americans and Taliban attend the meeting – on the same stage where the agreement between the insurgents and the government of Donald Trump which precipitated the US withdrawal – with very different agendas.
That agreement required the Taliban to sever all ties with terrorist groups and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a haven for those planning and launching attacks against the US and its allies.
One of the problems of the exit for the United States is the reduction of its ability to control terrorist groups, which have multiplied its activities in Afghanistan since the withdrawal. Attacks by groups such as Islamic State-Khorasan against Shiite Afghans have intensified in recent weeks, as in the recent attack on a mosque in Kunduz, where at least 46 people were killed on Friday.
Controlling terrorists is one of the priorities for the US, but the Taliban do not want to cooperate in this area with Washington. “We are capable of containing Daesh by ourselves,” he assured the AP agency. Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban. The new rulers of Afghanistan do not want either US counter-terrorism help or their army to carry out an operation ‘over the horizon’, that is, conducted without the need for troops on the ground. The ability of the US military to carry out these operations was called into question in the final days of the evacuation of Kabul, where it attacked a suspected wrong terrorist target with a drone, and the attack left ten civilians dead, including they seven minors.
The meeting marks “a new page” in relations between the two countries, according to the Acting Taliban Foreign Minister. Amir Khan Muttaqi. The Biden Administration, however, insists that the meeting does not represent recognition of the Taliban regime.
Americans seek that the meeting serves to expedite the departure of Afghans from the country,Americans and other foreigners -very weakened since its withdrawal-, as well as to pressure the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls and form an inclusive government.
The Taliban, for their part, are focused on get humanitarian aid -his great priority-, the unblocking of its reserves by the United States and the donation of vaccines against Covid-19. After the meeting with the US delegation, there will also be a meeting with representatives of the European Union.