The top US spy, CIA Director William Burns, reportedly secretly met the head of the CIA Taliban On Monday in Kabul, in the highest-level diplomatic meeting since the militant group took power.
According to a report in the Washington Post, Unnamed US officials said Burns met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar as the Biden administration continues its efforts to evacuate American citizens and other allies amid chaos at Kabul airport.
while the CIA The report declined to comment on the Taliban meeting, and the report speculated that a likely topic for discussion was the impending August 31 deadline for the US military to end the airlift.
The meeting took place as a UN human rights official described credible reports of serious human rights abuses committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, including summary executions of civilians, restrictions on women and restrictions on protests against their rule.
At an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, which at the request of Pakistan and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the council’s president, Michelle Bachelet, called for a mechanism to monitor the Taliban’s actions, describing the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls as a “fundamental red line”.
Warning that “large numbers of people will seek refuge in neighboring countries or outside the region,” Bachelet made her remarks ahead of a virtual meeting of G7 leaders on Tuesday to discuss the crisis and the evacuation of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul airport.
Describing the airlift from Afghanistan, a NATO diplomat said Western countries were working “at a warlike pace” on Tuesday to get people out of the country as US President Joe Biden looks set to come under pressure from the other Group of Seven nations. The commanders are seeking more time to complete the airlift.
G7 leaders could discuss taking a united position on the issue of recognizing the Taliban government, or alternatively, renewing sanctions to pressure the hardline Islamist movement to comply with pledges to respect women’s rights and international relations.
“The G7 leaders will agree to coordinate on whether or when the Taliban will be recognized,” said a European diplomat.
“And they will commit to continuing to work closely together.”
Widespread chaos interspersed with sporadic violence engulfed Kabul airport, as Western forces and Afghan security guards sent back desperate crowds to flee after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital on August 15.
A NATO diplomat told Reuters that countries carrying out the evacuations were trying to meet an August 31 deadline agreed with the Taliban earlier for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Biden, who has left open the possibility that US forces will remain after the deadline, has warned that the evacuation would be “difficult and painful” and that much could go wrong. A number of countries, including Spain and the United Kingdom, have issued grim warnings that not all Afghans who worked on overseas missions will be evacuated.
However, the Taliban described the presence of foreign forces after the end of August as a “red line” that would have “consequences”, dimming hopes of extending the airlift effort.
While Britain’s Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, said efforts to win an extension would continue, he was skeptical that this would happen.
Despite international calls for a comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan, the Taliban on Tuesday continued to consolidate its power, appointing a new finance minister, chief of intelligence and acting interior minister.
According to Pajhwok News Agency, Gul Agha will be Minister of Finance and Sadr Ibrahim as Acting Minister of Interior. Najibullah will be the intelligence chief, while Mullah Shirin will be the governor of Kabul and Hamdullah Nomani will be the mayor of the capital.
Many Afghans fear a repeat of the brutal interpretation of Islamic law implemented by the Taliban when they first took power from 1996-2001, or the retaliation of those who have worked with the US-backed government over the past two decades.
“The Taliban are the same as they were 20 years ago,” Nilofar Bayat, a women’s rights activist and former captain of the Afghan wheelchair basketball team, said after arriving in Spain.
“If you see Afghanistan now, it’s all men, and there are no women because they don’t accept women as part of society.”