State Department describes weekend talks with senior Taliban leaders as ‘candid and professional’

One month after exiting Afghanistan, the Biden administration continues to paint the Islamic militant group as a “professional” entity.

The State Department met with “senior Taliban representatives” over the weekend in Doha, Qatar, with spokesman Ned Price describing the discussions as “candid and professional” throughout.

“The U.S. delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. 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, ” Price 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 U.S. delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words.”

The Taliban said the talks “went well,” according to the Associated Press, which reported that the Biden administration will free up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.

As for the demeanor toward the Taliban, NSC Spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement in early September: “The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step.”

Horne noted that more than 6,000 American citizens and lawful permanent residents had been evacuated, but hundreds of Americans were ultimately abandoned behind enemy lines. Ironically, the release cited President Biden to say “if you are an American citizen who wants to leave Afghanistan, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki stood by the use of such terminology in reference to the Taliban that same month.

“We are here to celebrate the return of American citizens who wanted to leave Afghanistan… In order to get those people out, we had to work with some members of the Taliban to press them and to work in a businesslike manner to get them out,” Psaki said.

At the same time, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  Gen. Mark Milley said in remarks before Congress the Taliban “was and remain a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with al Qaeda.”

On that note, the Taliban took a hard stance Saturday against cooperating with the United States to limit terrorist groups’ activities in Afghanistan ahead of their meeting with U.S. officials.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen declared, “We are able to tackle Daesh independently.”

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS-K, a group that claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that took the lives of nearly 50 Shiite Muslims as they worshiped and prayed in a mosque on Friday. The same group took responsibility for the Kabul airport bombing that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. servicemembers, including 11 Marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army soldier.

Price made no reference to this development in his statement.

Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the AP that the Taliban doesn’t need help from the U.S. military, but added, “It is insane for the U.S. to think the Taliban can be a reliable counterterrorism partner, given the Taliban’s enduring support for al-Qaida.”

Tom Tillison


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