CIA chief reportedly conducted secret meeting with Taliban leader

The alleged meeting came as the Taliban announced that any extension in the schedule of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan would not be welcomed.

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According to a report issued by the Washington Post, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief William Burns secretly came together with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday. This came as the first face-to-face meeting between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the group captured the Afghan capital.

Referring to US officials with knowledge on the issue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the report stated that the meeting likely focused on the evacuation process of US citizens and Afghan partners, for which the deadline had previously been determined as of August 31.

On Monday, the Taliban official stated that any decision regarding the extension of the scheduled program for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan would not be welcomed. These statements were followed by the aforementioned secret meeting.

On the other hand, Biden signaled that US forces may continue to stay in the country to support the evacuation of tens of thousands of citizens of the US and Western countries in addition to Afghan people who cooperated with the US, and now desperately are trying to escape from Taliban rule.

Along with the US, the UK, France, and other Western countries emphasized the need for more time to accomplish the evacuation process of their staff However, a Taliban spokesperson warned that any extension would be “crossing a red line,” which would coincide with serious consequences.”

Prior to the details of the secret meeting surfacing, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, on Monday, responded to questions regarding why the US had not held talks with Baradar given the circumstances in Afghanistan, saying “Our discussion with the Taliban has been operational and tactical. They have been focused largely on our near-term operations and near-term goals… what is going on at the airport compound… That is what we are focused on at the moment.”

In April, CIA Director William Burns paid an announced visit to Afghanistan upon accelerated worries regarding the then-Afghan government’s capability to struggle with the Taliban after the US withdrawal. In his testimony before the Congress earlier this year, Burns emphasized the risk and said, “when the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That is simply a fact.”

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